the age of 17, it was time for him to choose a profession. He was
interested to be an artist or at least to join in Navy or Army.
But his father who
rendered services in Indian army as Major-General (1880),
Lieutenant-General (1886) and full General (1890), wanted to join him
in Indian Medical Services (IMS) before he retired from his services.
His father’s ambition could not materialize immediately as Ross failed
in one of the exams. By 30th July
1879, Ross passed his MRCS with the help of his friend McKee with
three days preparation, but failed in LSA (Licentiate of the Society
of Apothecaries) hence, could not join IMS in 1879 batch. Ross passed
his LSA in early 1881 and selected for IMS. On 2nd April
1881, he was appointed as Surgeon in IMS.
Further, he underwent
the prescribed course of Military medicine and surgery for 4 more
months in England. On 22 Sept. 1881 left England for India. Ross
arrived at Bombay on 23rd Oct. 1881. Ross was appointed for
Madras Presidency. Immediately up on his arrival at Madras Mr. Appoo
taken care of him as personal servant. In April 1882 he was appointed
as Medical charge for 10th Madras
Infantry at Mysore.
In March 1882 Ross was
appointed as acting Medical charge to 17th MI
for 6 months at Vizianagaram. He claims: his stay at Vizianagaram was
“better than the home life of a professional man in England”. In Sept.
1884, Ross was asked to go to Quetta in Baluchistan to bring back the
pioneers who had suffered much from sickness on active service. He
remained in Medical charge for 1st Madras
pioneers for some more months and transferred to Burma
In 1885, moved to 9th MI
stationed at Port Blair. In early 1887, he was transferred to Madras
city. Ross himself interested in sanitary work which is
important in India. He completed Diploma course on Bacteriology under
Prof. Klein. He married Ms. Rosa Bloxam on 25th April
1889. He arrived at Madras on 6th Sept.
1889 with his wife. Immediately he received orders to go on field
service to Burma. During his stay at Burma he could not do much to
Bacteriology but began to study mosquito seriously. He reared mosquito
larvae and distinguished two main varieties (grey –Culex and brindled-
Ross was posted to
Bangalore on 20th May
1890, as pukka appointment after nine years of service. At that time
Laveran’s discovery of Malaria (1880) began to be talked in India. In
April 1893 appointment as Staff-Surgeon at Bangalore ended. Three
months leave to Ootucmund. Ross & his friend Mr. Tait went for fishing
in a river. Tait suffered with Malaria as he
slept without mosquito net. Ross suspected mosquito for this cause.
In June 1893 he left
Coonoor for Secunderabad (1895) as temporary Medical Officer to 20th MI.
Ross witnessed Moharram procession on invitation from Nizam. In
few months he was given permanent appointment as surgeon to 19th MI
at Berhampur in Orissa. At the age of 37 he attained the rank as
Surgeon-Major after 12 yrs service. Ross obtained another year’s
furlough from Feb 1894 to March 1895. Ross met Dr. Patrick Manson on
10 April 1894. Manson demonstrated him malarial “crescents” in
patient’s blood. Ross met him very often and discussed malaria
findings. Once, Manson says to Ross “Do you know, I have formed the
theory that mosquitoes carry malaria just as they carry Filaria”.
On 20th March
1895 Ross won the Parkes’ Memorial Gold Medal for essay on Malaria. On
21 April 1895 he arrived at Bombay and proceeded to Secunderabad.
It was almost 15 yrs
had elapsed since the Plasmodium had been discovered by Laveran
in malariated persons. Ross decided to target the mosquito to study
the Plasmodium, but there was nothing to guide him in which
mosquito species is concerned with malaria. Then, he formed three
aspects to confirm malaria. Find the malaria patients Numbers of
mosquitoes breed from larva. Pursued the mosquito bite on patients.
Thus within one month he could able to show that the
crescent-sphere-flagella phenomenon occurs in the mosquito’s stomach.
Experiments on Malaria
Ross struggled a lot
get the blood samples, he used to offer 2 and 3 annas for a single
finger prick. While doing this work seriously, he got transferred to
Bangalore (1896) to control Cholera. He spent three months holiday in
Ooty (1897) at Sigur Ghat. Back to Secunderabad on 18th June
1897. He was compelled to work at lowest salary for Rs.800/PM. He fed
up with the bureaucracy and determined to retire on first pension.
Continued his experiments on Brindled mosquito breeding. He suffered a
crushing defeat with Surgeon-Colonel Lawrie who was then Head of the
Medical services of Nizam of Hyderabad who did not believe in “Laveranity”.
After two and a half years' failure, Ross succeeded in
demonstrating the life-cycle of the parasites of malaria in
On 20 August 1897, in
Secunderabad, Ross made his landmark discovery. While dissecting the
stomach tissue of an anopheline mosquito fed four days previously on a
malarious patient, he found the malaria parasite and went on to prove
the role of
mosquitoes in the transmission of malaria parasites in humans.
He composed the
following poem on that occasion.
placed within my hand
wondrous thing; and God
praised. At this command,
His secret deeds
tears and toiling breath,
thy cunning seeds,
this little thing
men will save.
where is thy sting?
victory, O grave?