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History of LIBR

The present institute, initially called the Liberia Institute for Tropical Medicine (LMTM) was founded by the American Foundation for Tropical Medicine (AFTM) in 1954, with a branch Voinjama, in the then Western Province, now Lofa County. For 15 years it remained an active and productive research Institute housing 15-20 investigators from the USA and other countries. However, lack of financial support resulted in the decline in activities during the late sixties. Research ceased between 1969 and 1970.

By agreement with AFTM in 1974, the Lindsley F. Kimball Research Institute of The New York Blood Center (LFKRI) established a Laboratory of Virology (VILAB II) for research with chimpanzees. As a consequence, the renovation and renewal of the institute began. In 1975, the institute was transferred by the AFTM to the Government of Liberia, which reconstituted it as a non-profit research institute, termed the Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research (LIBR).

The Liberian Institute for Biomedical Research is structured to maintain two operational divisions, (Technical and Administrative Divisions) of necessity. The Institute operates as a semi-federated system particularly in regards to research projects. While maintaining overall supervision of these projects, routine administrative duties, field laboratories are decentralized due to limited administrative, human and financial resources. The Institute in addition to subsidies from the government of Liberia in the form of general administrative staff cost, mobilizes it own resources from grants and collaborations with other Institutions to keep it functioning.

LIBR is operated by the Board of Governors, responsible for the enunciation of all policies affecting the Institute and its activities. The technical body referred to as – the Advisory Council for Biomedical Research and has the following functions: Annual Assessment of the activities of LIBR, based on its Annual Report and began the establishment on other reports with the view of deriving approaches that will improve its efficiency of operation and enhance its capacity to achieve its development objectives; Serves as a technical review board of research proposals, agreements and contracts; Serves as an Ethical Standards Committee on all research involving human subjects, in the Republic of Liberia.

The first-five years (1975-1980) of LIBR was for the most part that of preparatory phase during which great emphasis was placed on establishment of managerial norms, promotion of the Institute and undertaking research within the given capacities. The diseases covered during the first years were schistosomiasis and hepatitis.

During the second-five years (1980-1985) emphasis was on development of institutional strengthening framework in collaboration with WHO/TDR with Training of National Investigators as the sole purpose and research in the areas of onchocerciasis epidemiology and transmission dynamics, viral hepatitis, schistosomiasis, epilepsy, malaria, Lassa Fever (survey of antibody titer among hospital workers and selected locations in Bong and Lofa counties) and diarrhea.

The third-five years (1985 – 1990), most research activities were on a collaborative basis with laboratories in developed countries due to lack of resources and national investigators to conduct home based investigations. (Notwithstanding, LIBR continued to provide attractive research atmosphere which resulted in the mass ivermectin treatment trail in Liberia, malaria morbidity and epidemiology study in Northern Liberia, biological control and fauna assessment of Anopheles, gambiae, breeding in rice fields in Liberia among others, all funded by WHO/TDR. Institutional strengthening of LIBR through the WHO/TDR Training Programme continued).

BY 1994
WHO/World Bank/TDR had sponsored the training of two (2) malaria epidemiologists, one (1) Pathobiologist and one (1) Medical Entomologist.  Unfortunately these individuals are no longer available for the work at Institute due to the prolonged civil conflict in the Country.


The Directors of the Institute for the past 56 years are as follows:

Director Organization Dates
Thomas A. Bruch AFTM 1950-1953
Max J. Miller LITM 1954-1955
R.S. Bray (Acting) LITM 1955-1956
R. Fox LITM 1956-1960
R. Hoepli LITM 1960-1964
Emmet A. Dennis, Ph.D LIBR July 1975 - Sept. 1980
Aloysius P. Hanson, Ph.D LIBR October 1980 – May 1990
Fatorma K. Bolay, Ph.D. (Acting) LIBR July 1990 – 1994
N. T. Marbiah, MD, Ph.D. LIBR 1995 – August 2006
Fatorma K. Bolay, Ph.D. LIBR September 2006 - Present