Patrick m anson and Ronald Ro ss: m alar ia an d the r ise a nd fa LL of a sc ient ific frie n dshi p

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Patrick M anson and Ronald Ro ss:  

m alar ia  an d the r ise a nd fa ll  of   a sc ient ific  frie n dshi p  

Often described as the ‘father’ of tropical medicine, Sir Patrick Manson’s Tropical Medicine was the 

first textbook to demonstrate that diseases in tropical climates were not simply caused by unique en-

vironmental conditions, but had specific microbiological causes. His research in China had also impli-

cated the mosquito as an agent in the transmission of filariasis. Working in London in the 1890s, he 

met Ronald Ross, an officer in the Indian Medical Service. Manson convinced Ross that mosquitos 

also transmitted malaria. Their correspondence after Ross returned to India records the blind alleys 

and final triumph, as Ross discovered and demonstrated that bird malaria was transmitted through 

the bite of an infected mosquito.  

However the two men, both Scottish but radically different in temperament, eventually quarrelled. 

Ross came to believe that Manson had not supported him sufficiently. This lecture examines the rise 

and fall of their scientific friendship.  

An evening lecture with 

Professor William Bynum (

University College London)  



October 2013 

Bowland Auditorium, Berrick Saul Building, University of York  6.00 pm


This is a free event and all are welcome to attend 

This lecture celebrates the launch of the William Bynum Prize, an international essay competition for doctoral 

students  and  early  career  post-doctoral  researchers.  coordinated  by  Medical  History’s  editorial  offices  at  the 

University of York.  The Prize is generously supported by Cambridge University Press.  

{    T he C entre for Glob al Healt h Hist ori es p resents   }  








This lecture is presented in association with the Yorkshire Philosophical Society and the York Medical Society.   

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