ROSS, Ronald [1857 - 1 932]

Ronald Ross was the first British Nobel laureate, receiving the prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1902 for his work on the transmission of malaria. His discovery of the malarial parasite in the gastrointestinal tract of a mosquito in 1897 proved that the malaria was spread by mosquitos and laid the foundation for methods to combat the disease. From 1902 to 1912 he was Professor and Chair of Tropical Medicine at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

He was born on 13th  May 1857 at the Himalayan hill station of Almora, North-Western Provinces, the eldest of ten children of General Sir Campbell Claye Grant Ross (1824–1892), then a captain in the 66th regiment of Gurkhas, and Matilda Charlotte, née Elderton. The Ross family had strong links with India, his great-grandfather was a director of the East India Company and his grandfather and an uncle served in the Bengal army. Ronald Ross was sent to England for his schooling in 1865. His own preference for a career would have been the army or work of an artistic nature but his father insisted that he enrolled in St Bartholemew’s Hospital medical school in 1874. Never more than an average student he qualified and spent some time employed as a ship’s surgeon. In 1881 he returned to India, spending the next seven years in the Indian Medical Service, his duties being light enough to allow him to pursue his literary interests and publish a book of verse drama.

Whilst on furlough in England in 1894, he sought out Patrick Manson, the leading British expert on tropical diseases, their discussions providing the spark for his subsequent researches into the transmission of malaria. After retiring from the Indian Medical Service he joined the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, newly established by Liverpool philanthropists, especially Sir Alfred Jones. Under the auspices of the Liverpool school, went on malaria expeditions to Sierra Leone (1899, 1901) and Lagos (1901). Having been knighted in 1911, he left Liverpool in 1912, accepting an appointment as consultant physician to King's College Hospital.

Ronald Ross married Rosa Bessie Bloxam in 1889. They had two daughters and two sons, the younger son Charles being killed in 1914 in France in the early days of the First World War. Ross died on 16th September 1932 in London.

When he first moved to Liverpool Ross lived at 36 Bentley Road L8, later moving to 1 Princes Park terrace L8.

36 Bentley Road L8

Ross' first home in Liverpool.

1 Princes Park Terrace L8

Ross' home c.1911


The entries in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and Wikipedia give great detail about his research work. Ross published his memoirs in 1922 entitled Memoirs: With A Full Account Of The Great Malaria Problem And Its Solution. (Electronic copy available if you email Liverpool Footprints).