Charles Adey entered the laboratories division of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories at Point Pirie on 16 May 1927 as a medical officer. The appointment was confirmed in December 1927 (effective from 13 June 1927) and his duties were extended by his appointment as a quarantine officer at the same time. In 1930 he visited Fiji to assist the Fijian Government in the investigation and control of a cholera outbreak there.
Educated at Melbourne Grammar School he had a distinguished academic record. Before commencing medicine he served with the Third Light Horse Field Ambulance in the AIF during World War I and attained the rank of staff sergeant. During the Second World War he served as Assistant Director of Medical Services of the Second Cavalry Division (and also with rank of lieutenant-colonel as commander of the Third Cavalry Field Ambulance.)
His professional career at CSL fell entirely in the period of Frederick Grantley Morgan's directorship (1927-56) which was notable for the many advances implemented. Charles Adey's responsibilities were principally as a head of varied technical services during an era when medical qualifications were deemed a prerequisite for control of manufacturing and quality control functions. In that era, CSL was either the career ground or training ground for many medical graduates who included FG Morgan, JA Broben (deputy director), EA North, and EV (`Bill') Keogh who made a notable contribution in establishing the research and development division.
Adey's scientific papers ranged from methods of assay of the antigenic value of diphtheria antitoxin to the serological treatment of puerperal sepsis due to Clostridium welchii. His friends knew him as a kindly man embodying the characteristics of a good and gentle nature. His interests were diverse, encompassing sailing, walking, tennis, the theatre, the concert hall and films. A deeply religious man, his professional career was marked by his critical scientific approach and conservatism developed to a high degree, a quality which seemed to be the hallmark of those engaged in development and production of biological products. He also served his colleagues through his activities with the Commonwealth Medical Officers' Association of which he was erstwhile president.
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