Auguste Delépine was the key figure in the study of bacteriology and public health in Manchester. He was professor of pathology at Owens College, later the University of Manchester, from 1891 to 1921, and he set up the Public Health Laboratory. He was born at Perroy in Switzerland and was educated in Paris and the University of Lausanne. He later studied at Geneva and Edinburgh and graduated with a medical degree from the latter institution in 1882. Delépine then worked with Professor Hamilton in Edinburgh. In 1884 he moved to St George's Hospital in London as a demonstrator in pathology and pathologist. In 1891 he was appointed to the chair of pathology at Owens College. The chair had been established on a full-time basis due to an endowment from a local merchant, Daniel Procter.
Delépine was very active in his new post, developing a course for undergraduates in bacteriology and setting up the bacteriological laboratories in the Owens College Medical school. In 1891 a public health laboratory was opened at York Place, which he was in charge of. These commitments meant that he had insufficient time to provide diagnostic services for public health. In 1893, cases of cholera were reported in Manchester, and Delépine was asked to report on these. The importance of having experts provide diagnostic services was then recognised, and he received greater assistance, particularly from Dr E.J. Sidebotham. The Manchester Public Health Laboratory carried a large number of investigations both routine and special, and included special studies on anthrax, arsenic poisoning of beer and the effects of sewer gas.