A lasting gift to support fundamental brain research



Ailsa Gillies passion for science will live on thanks to a generous gift left in her Will to support fundamental brain research at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) at The University of Queensland (UQ).

Ailsa Gillies.

Ailsa’s family had a long association with UQ. Her father Dr CD Gillies, studied science soon after UQ was first established. Dr Gillies then lectured in Biology at UQ and then moved to study Medicine at Melbourne University, before the program was established locally. Ailsa’s mother was one of the first women dentists to graduate from Sydney University, a notable achievement in 1914.

In 1949, Ailsa followed in her parent’s footsteps and studied Medical Science at UQ with an interest in Bacteriology and later obtained her Master’s Degree. Her keen interest in research and using her science to solve practical problems in the dairy industry led to a successful 37 year career culminating in her being appointed as the first woman Director in Primary industries with the Queensland Government.

In her private life, Miss Gillies’ generosity extended to helping the community, with her dedicating considerable time as a community volunteer especially in the area of epilepsy. She spent many years on Epilepsy Queensland’s Managerial Board, with her nephew Fergus Pollock (MBA UQ), working to raise money to support those living with epilepsy.

Ailsa’s family visited the Zuryn and Meunier Laboratories when they visited QBI to learn about the importance of fundamental research to understand the brain. From left Dr Steven Zuryn, Mr Ross Pollock (Ailsa’s nephew), Prof Pankaj Sah (QBI Director), Mr James Pollock (Ailsa’s Brother-in-Law), Mrs Heather Pollock (Ailsa’s sister) Ms Ann Forbes (Ailsa’s niece), Dr Merja Joensuu and Prof Fred Meunier.  

Ailsa’s lifetime of studying, and working in fundamental research, led to her generous bequest to QBI. This support of fundamental research, to help solve the question of why underlying causes in the brain lead to epilepsy and other disorders, provides the opportunity to progress possible medical treatments. It also reflects Ailsa’s important medical training and her understanding of the vital importance of moving treatments forward and fulfilling her wish to help people in the future.

The Queensland Brain Institute is extremely grateful to the late Ailsa Gillies for the wonderful impact her gift will have in progressing our understanding of the brain to treat brain diseases and disorders. This generosity and enduring gift helps support researchers to continue important work which often can take years to come to fruition.

If you are considering a bequest or memorial gift in your Will please contact Advancement Director Andrea Markey on +61 7 334 66405 or a.markey@uq.edu.au for more information.

Last updated:
24 March 2023