Giving through bequests is one way to support important medical research at the Diamantina Institute. One such donation was recently made from a donor called Denise Khoo, who wanted to make a gift from the estate of her late father, Edward Gordon O’Brien.

Denise explained that her late father, Gordon, suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and wanted to help others who had a similar diagnosis.

Gordon was born in Cairns in 1924 and grew up mostly on the Kuranda range. He had a love of plants and a thirst for knowledge which led him to study as a teacher at the Training College in Brisbane. He joined the Air Force during the Second World War and trained as a wireless and radar mechanic, working in PNG. After the war he returned to teaching, married and had three girls. Most of his early teaching career was spent in North Queensland primary schools and then later in secondary schools after completing a Bachelor of Education by distance education from the University of Queensland. He also attended many courses at the Gatton Agricultural College. He loved teaching English. This love of learning was communicated to his students and family. His three daughters all became school teachers.

Later in life the family moved to north of Brisbane where he kept animals and grew vegies and fruit. It was at this time the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis developed. His daughter says he was a person who was interested in people. He believed the real purpose of education was to make you think.

He was a great believer in helping the next generation. Denise told me her father would have wanted to help at least one person with his gift to support research. He hoped others would not suffer.

The Diamantina Institute has directed his gift to support Professor Ranjeny Thomas’ research group who have developed a therapeutic vaccine for RA now entering clinical trials. Professor Thomas is the holder of the Arthritis Queensland Chair in Rheumatology.

The Institute wishes to thank its supporters and partners in medical research.

If you would like information on how to support research at the Diamantina Institute, please contact Andrew Pentland, Deputy Director Advancement on 0411 779 819 or email