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Ronald (Sir) Ross

Physician nobel Laureate

He was born in Nepal as the son of General Sir C.C.G. Ross of the British army.  Prior to joining Indian Medical Service in 1881, Ross completed his study of medicine at St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London in 1875. He studied malaria between 1881-99. He worked on malaria in Calcutta at the Presidency General Hospital. In 1897 in Secunderabad, he discovered the presence of the malarial parasite within the Anopheles mosquito. 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.  In 1902 Ross was awarded the first 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 arrogated 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.

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. 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.

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

Rob Ainsworth