Patrick Manson and Ronald Ross: malaria and the rise and fall of a scientific friendship

Tuesday 15 October 2013, 6.00PM

Speaker(s): Professor William Bynum

An audio recording of this event is now available. Please press 'play' on the media bar below (apologies: no video available).


This lecture celebrates the inauguration of the William Bynum Prize, an international essay competition for doctoral students and early career post-doctoral researchers. The prize, awarded to the author of an original essay on any theme relating to the history of medicine and its related sciences, is coordinated by Medical History with the generous support of Cambridge University Press.

Lecture Poster: Bynum Lecture Poster (PDF , 435kb)

Patrick Manson, Wellcome Images collection  Ronald Ross, Wellcome Images collection

Lecture abstract: "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 environmental conditions, but had specific microbiological causes. His research in China had also implicated the mosquito as a necessary agent in the transmission of the parasitic disease filariasis. Working in London in the 1890s, he encountered Ronald Ross, a medical officer in the Indian Medical Service. Manson convinced Ross that the mosquito also transmitted malaria. Their correspondence after Ross returned to India records the blind alleys and final triumph, as Ross discovered and demonstrated experimentally 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, who won the Nobel Prize for his work in 1902, came to believe that Manson had not supported him in his disputes with Italian malariologists. This lecture examines the rise and fall of their scientific friendship."

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

Attendance is free, all are welcome.


Event images: Patrick Manson with his family, Amoy, Fuh-kien (Fukien), China & ‘Portrait of Sir Ronald Ross at his desk’ – both Wellcome Library, London

Location: Bowland Auditorium, Humanities Research Centre, University of York

Email: For further information: cghh@york.ac.uk