Tribute to Sir Ronald Ross

Sir Ronald Ross, a leading pioneer in Tropical Medicine, and all round talented man, died on this day in 1932.  

“Sir Ronald Ross was born in India in 1857 to a Scottish Army Officer and his wife. He was educated in England and entered St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College in 1874. He took the examinations for the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1879 and obtained the post of ship’s surgeon while studying for the Licenciate of the Society of Apothecaries, which allowed him to enter the Indian Medical Service in 1881. He held temporary appointments in Madras, Burma and Andaman Islands, all the while developing his interests in poetry, literature and mathematics. In 1892 he began his study of malaria and in 1895 began his correspondence with Sir Patrick Manson, then physician to the Seamen’s Hospital Society, who became the Medical Advisor to the Colonial Office and the founder of the London School of Tropical Medicine.

In August 1897, he made his famous discovery of the transmission of malaria parasites in man by Anopheles mosquitoes, after which he continued his research work in India until 1899 when he retired from the Indian Medical Service. He returned to England, taking a post as lecturer at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, later becoming Professor of Tropical Medicine, and accepting a personal chair in Tropical Sanitation at Liverpool University. During World War One he was appointed a consultant physician on tropical diseases to Indian troops and was sent to Alexandria for four months to investigate an outbreak of dysentery which was hampering troops in the Dardanelles. In 1917 he was appointed a consultant physician to the War Office and in 1919 he received an honorary post as consultant to the Ministry of Pensions.

Ronald ross's diary

Front cover of Sir Ronald Ross’ ‘diary and notes of researches on malaria’, book 1 22 April 1895 – 9 February 1898

During his life he went on various expeditions, including West Africa, Panama, Greece and Cyprus to advise on and aid the extermination of malaria. He wrote extensively on malaria and other topics including his book The Prevention of Malaria in 1910. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1902 and knighted in 1911. Despite receiving many other awards and honours during his life, he felt embittered that he did not receive monetary reward for his discovery and petitioned the Government on this subject. This was part of his concern that research workers should receive proper payment and pensions for their work. He was Director-in-Chief of the Ross Institute and Hospital for Tropical Diseases from 1926 until his death in 1932.

While Ross is remembered for his malaria work, this remarkable man was also a mathematician, epidemiologist, sanitarian, editor, novelist, dramatist, poet, and an amateur musician, composer and artist; many of these facets are represented in the archive collection of which further information is available in Series level descriptions.”


Text taken from LSHTM Library and Archives Service.

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