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Ronald Ross

For the shinty player, see Ronald Ross (shinty player)

Ronald Ross

Born13 May 1857(1857-05-13)
Almora, India
Died16 September, 1932
London, England
Alma materSt. Bartholomew's Hospital
Known forMalaria discovery.
Notable prizesNobel prize for Physiology or Medicine, 1902

Sir Ronald Ross KCB, (13 May 1857 – 16 September 1932) was a Scottish physician. He was born in Almora, India as the son of General Sir Campbell Claye Grant Ross of the Indian Army.


Early years

Prior to joining the Indian Medical Service in 1881, Ross completed his study of medicine at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London in 1875 and qualified as MRCS and LSA.


He studied malaria between 1881 and 1899. He worked on malaria in Calcutta at the Presidency General Hospital. In 1883, Ross was posted as the Acting Garrison Surgeon at Bangalore during which time he noticed the possibility of controlling mosquitoes by controlling their access to water. In 1897 Ross was posted in Ootacamund and fell ill with malaria. After this he was transferred to Secunderabad, he discovered the presence of the malarial parasite within a specific species of mosquito, the Anopheles. He initially called them dapple-wings and he was able to find the malaria parasite in a mosquito that he artificially fed on a malaria patient named Hussain Khan. Later using birds that were sick with malaria, he was soon able to ascertain the entire life cycle of the malarial parasite, including its presence in the mosquito's salivary glands. He demonstrated that malaria is transmitted from infected birds to healthy ones by the bite of a mosquito, a finding that suggested the disease's mode of transmission to humans. In 1902 Ross was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his remarkable work on malaria.

In 1899 Ross went back to Britain and joined Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine as a professor of tropical medicine. In 1901 Ross was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and also a Fellow of the Royal Society, of which he became Vice-President from 1911 to 1913. In 1902 he was appointed a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of Bath by King Edward VII. In 1911 he was elevated to the rank of Knight Commander of the same Order.

During his active career Ross advocated the task of prevention of malaria in different countries. He carried out surveys and initiated schemes in many places, including West Africa, the Suez Canal zone, Greece, Mauritius, Cyprus, and in the areas affected by the First World War. He also initiated organizations, which have proved to be well established, for the prevention of malaria within the planting industries of India and Ceylon. He made many contributions to the epidemiology of malaria and to methods of its survey and assessment, but perhaps his greatest was the development of mathematical models for the study of its epidemiology, initiated in his report on Mauritius in 1908, elaborated in his Prevention of malaria in 1911 and further elaborated in a more generalized form in scientific papers published by the Royal Society in 1915 and 1916. These papers represented a profound mathematical interest which was not confined to epidemiology, but led him to make material contributions to both pure and applied mathematics.

Through these works Ross continued his great contribution in the form of the discovery of the transmission of malaria by the mosquito, but he also found time and mental energy for many other pursuits, being poet, playwright, writer and painter. Particularly, his poetic works gained him wide acclamation which was independent of his medical and mathematical standing.


Sir Ronald Ross received many honours in addition to the Nobel Prize, and was given Honorary Membership of learned societies of most countries of Europe, and of many other continents. He got an honorary M.D. degree in Stockholm in 1910 at the centenary celebration of the Caroline Institute and his 1923 autobiography Memoirs, Etc. was awarded that year's James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Whilst his vivacity and single-minded search for truth caused friction with some people, he enjoyed a vast circle of friends in Europe, Asia and the United States who respected him for his personality as well as for his genius.

Ross married Rosa Bessie Bloxam in 1889. They had two sons, Ronald and Charles, and two daughters, Dorothy and Sylvia. His wife died in 1931. Ross survived her until a year later, when he died after a long illness, at the Ross Institute, London, in 1932.

In India Sir Ronald Ross is remembered with great respect. Because of his relentless work on malaria, the deadly epidemic which used to claim thousands of lives every year could be successfully controlled. There are roads named after him in many Indian towns and cities. In Calcutta the road linking Presidency General Hospital with Kidderpore Road has been renamed after him as Sir Ronald Ross Sarani. Earlier this road was known as Hospital Road.

See also


  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
  • The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ronald_Ross". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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