Ronald Ross, who won the Nobel prize for his work on malaria, was born on this day.
He discovered the malarial parasite in the gastrointestinal tract of the Anopheles mosquito, making possible ways to treat the disease. A significant part of his research was carried out in Kolkata.
Ross was born in Almora. His father was a British general stationed in India. Ross was educated in England and joined the Indian Medical Service.
On August 20, 1897, in Secunderabad, working on malaria, Ross felt certain of the presence the human malarial parasite in the mosquito. This day was commemorated later by Ross as “Mosquito Day” and still is. Then work took him to Kherwara in Rajputana, and it was only after February 17, 1898, when Ross reached Kolkata that he could resume work on malaria and showed how it was transmitted. He left Kolkata on February 22, 1899, for London. By that time the results of his experiments were being discussed widely.
He received the Nobel in 1902.
A memorial to Ross, with two plaques and Ross’s head engraved in bas-relief in the middle, stands on a wall of SSKM hospital (then known as Presidency General hospital). On one of the plaques of the memorial are engraved three stanzas of a poem he wrote to his wife on discovering the parasite in the mosquito’s stomach. The other one says: “In the small laboratory 70 yards to the south east of this gate surgeon major Ronald Ross I.M.S. in 1898 discovered the manner in which malaria is conveyed by mosquitoes.”