Sir Patrick Manson

3 October 1844 - 9 April 1922

The Father of Tropical Medicine

Manson qualified MBChB at age 19 and initially worked in the Durham Lunatic Asylum preparing his MD thesis on the internal carotid artery. In 1866 he was appointed  as MO to the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs in Formosa (Taiwan) and moved to Amoy, China where, in addition to practising surgery, he researched into filariasis, a common condition in Amoy. His careful observations allowed him to identify the mosquito as the intermediary host of the filarial parasite (1877) and led to his mosquito malaria hypothesis (BMJ 1894) which stimulated Sir Ronald Ross to elucidate the life cycle of the malaria parasite.

Manson was a pioneer in advancing the science and understanding of other parasitic diseases as well as many aspects of public health. He discovered the dog lung fluke ( Dirofilaria), described ankylostomiasis (hookworm), leishmaniasis, trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), schistosomiasis (Bilharzia), typhoid, diphtheria, plague and encouraged smallpox vaccination. He also described a number of nutritional deficiency disease common in the tropics.

In 1883, he went to Hong Kong, where he established the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese, the forerunner of Hong Kong University. Returning to London in 1889, he was appointed physician to the Seamen’s Hospital Society. Manson and another Aberdeen doctor, James Cantlie, used their influence to found the first School of Tropical Medicine in London in 1899, which is now the renowned London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He was appointed Chief Medical Officer to the Colonial Office in 1897, a post he held until 1912.

His manual of Tropical Diseases (1898) has been developed and has appeared in several editions as one of the authoritative tropical diseases textbooks still in print.

He is commemorated by a plaque on the Cruikshank Building, Chanonry, Old Aberdeen.

Patrick Manson

Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London), 1895
Elected to the Royal Society, 1890
President of the Epidemiological  Society, 1900
The Cameron Prize for Therapeutics Edinburgh University, 1900
Awarded the Fothergill Gold Medal, 1902
Knighted  KCMG, 1903
Awarded the Bisset Hawkins Medal of the Royal College of Physicians, 1905
First President of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 1907
Honoured GCMG 1912
Edward Jenner Medal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1912
Honorary Doctorate of Science, University of Oxford 1905

Biography prepared from the nomination made by Dr Stuart C Glover to the University of Aberdeen 525 Alumni project.