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Ross, Sir Ronald

malaria london shown life

(1857–1932) British physician: discovered major steps in life-cycle of malarial parasite.

Ross was born in India, where his father was a British army officer; he returned to the UK to school when he was 8, studied medicine in London, and joined the Indian Medical Service in 1881. His interest in medicine increased from that time, but his interest in poetry, fiction and mathematics was life-long and he published in all these fields. From 1890 he studied malaria, and when on study-leave in London in 1894 he was shown the malarial parasite by , who suggested that it was transmitted by mosquitoes. Malaria was a long-known disease, and in the 1880s had been shown by C L A Laveran (1845–1922) and others to be due to a protozoon (a single-celled animal parasite), which invaded the red blood cells. The life-cycle of the protozoon (the genus Plasmodium ) is complex, with several stages in human blood and liver and other stages in the stomach and salivary gland of a species of mosquito. Ross, back in London in 1895, dissected over 100 infected mosquitoes before he saw, in 1897, the same stages that Laveran had seen in human blood; Ross found them in the Anopheles mosquito. By 1900 he and others had shown that human malaria is passed by the bite of females of some of the 400 species of the genus Anopheles . Although still a major problem, control of malaria in many areas followed this knowledge of its transmission.

Ross worked in England after retiring from the Indian Medical Service in 1899, first in Liverpool and then in London; he was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1902.

Rossby, Carl-Gustaf (Arvid) [next] [back] Ross, Sir James Clark

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