Sir Ronald Ross

Bacteriologist

Background

Born on May 13, 1857 in Almora, India, Ronald Ross was sent to England to attend school. His passion was art, poetry, and music but his father insisted on him studying medicine. He enrolled in St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London. After passing the examination for the Society of Apothecaries in 1881, he then joined the Indian Medical Service. He married Rosa Bloxam and had four children with her. Sir Ronald Ross passed away on September 16, 1932 in London, United Kingdom.

Research

After taking a leave of absence in 1888, Ross began to take an interest in researching malaria and how it's transmitted in humans. This widespread disease was a serious issue during Ross' time and especially in India, where he lived. The French physician Alphonse Laveran discovered malaria was caused by a one celled organism called Plasmodium and after two decades of study and research of this deadly disease, further data on the characteristics of the organism, its reproduction and the types of disease symptoms was accumulated. Still, it was unknown how the disease was transmitted from person to person. Questioning Laveran's discovery, Ross began to pursue his research where he began to work closely with Patrick Manson who was also interested in malaria. After coming to the conclusion that Laveran's theory was correct, Ross, with the help of Manson, discovered malaria was transmitted by mosquitoes. Manson helped Ross obtain a research leave from the Indian Medical Service in order to continue his research.

Discoveries

Working conditions in India, where he lived and worked, made it difficult to continue his research. On August 20th, 1897, Ross observed a cyst with black granules in the stomach of an Anopheles mosquito. Studying the mosquito closely, Ronald was able to monitor its reproduction in the human blood, the transmission during the feeding process, the incubation period, and its transmission to another human by a bite from the mosquito. At the new School of Tropical Medicine in Liverpool, Ross was a lecturer and he worked to eradicate the the conditions that caused the spread of malaria. Scientific advances were made once scientists and physicians were able to understand the different aspects of malarial fever. Ross' work made it easier for scientists to discover the role insect vectors played in the transmission of other diseases. Ross was able to develop a mathematical model to display the epidemiology of malaria. He traveled to areas with major health threats of malaria such as; Sierra Leone. Mauritius, and Greece and became a consulting advisor on malaria prevention. Ross truly believed that controlling the mosquito population was the key to prevention. These beliefs are further explained in his book Prevention of Malaria (1910).

Awards and Honors

1895- Parke Gold Medal

1901- Cameron Prize

1902- Ross was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Medicine

1909- Royal Medal of the Royal Society

1917- Ross was appointed physician of tropical diseases at King's College Hospital in London.

1926- Became director of a new facility founded in his name, the Ross Institute and Hospital for Tropical Diseases

Citations

"Ronald Ross." Science and Its Times. Ed. Neil Schlager and Josh Lauer. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale, 2000.Biography in Context. Web. 11 Jan. 2016.

"Ronald Ross." World of Health. Gale, 2007. Biography in Context. Web. 11 Jan. 2016.