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About Sir Ronald Ross and His Work


      Ronald Ross Born on Friday the 13th of May 1857, at Almora (Now in Uttarakhand) the foot hills of Himalaya. He was the first son of ten children to his parents. Ross was remarkably healthy boy till 1860. But in July 1860 he was severely effected with dysentery. In 1865 Ross was sent to England for health and Education. He was put at a dame-school at Ryde in England.

During his last year at Springhill School (1873-74) he began writing a painful verse. His first epic was the story of a dreamy ineffectual called Edgar. At 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.




    At 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 1st Madras 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- Stegomyia).

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 patients:


Abdul Khadir


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 mosquitoes.

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 Anopheles mosquitoes in the transmission of malaria parasites in humans.

He composed the following poem on that occasion.

This day relenting God

Hath placed within my hand

A wondrous thing; and God

Be praised. At this command,

Seeking His secret deeds

With tears and toiling breath,

I find thy cunning seeds,

million-murdering deaths.

I know this little thing

A myriad men will save.

Death, where is thy sting?

Thy victory, O grave?


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