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Manson, Sir Patrick

tropical life medicine malaria

(1844–1922) British physician: pioneer of tropical medicine.

Manson qualified in medicine at Aberdeen in 1865 and then worked in China for 23 years. He virtually founded the specialty of tropical medicine, in part by his studies of tropical parasitic infection. He studied the life-cycle of the parasite causing filariasis and deduced that it is passed to man by a common brown ( Culex ) mosquito. These experiments gave the first proof of the necessary involvement of an insect vector in the life cycle of a parasite, but his report on this to the Linnean Society in 1878 was received with ridicule.

In London from 1890, he met and discussed the role of mosquitos in malaria. As a result, Ross went to India and the two collaborated in studying the life-cycle of malaria parasites in the mosquito; Manson modestly gave Ross the main credit for their results. Meanwhile, G B Grassi (1854–1925), working independently in Rome, showed in 1898 that human malaria is transmitted by mosquito bites and in 1901 he described the complete, complex life cycle of the parasites causing the disease. Grassi was able to show that mosquitos of the genus Anopheles are exclusively responsible, but Ross claimed priority in the overall work on human malaria and in 1902 a Nobel Prize was, somewhat unjustly, awarded solely to him.

Manson also studied other parasitic diseases and effectively founded the London School of Tropical Medicine in 1899.

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