Saturday, 18 February 2017

Nobel laureate Dr.Ross' memorial in India

Ross memorial, Kolkata. Wikimedia Commons
Is there  a memorial in KolKata for Dr. Ronald Ross, the man who got a Nobel prize for this break-through work in the eradication of Malaria? Are you kidding? - I heard the conversation recently between two young people near a drugstore in my native town. Were they preparing for a competitive exam?; it is difficult to guess. Following day driven by curiosity, I went through a stack of information available on Ross and his work on malaria.Yes, in Kolkata there is a memorial  in his name. 

Ronald Ross  was the first one to throw a new light on the mechanism of malarial transmission in the humans. The crux of the issue surrounding his work was he used the birds for his scientific experiments. His work, however, was not based on malarial transmission in the humans. Since his concept and work formed a trail blazer, not tried before, he received the Nobel award in 1902.

It all began with his accidental trip to a place  near Ooty, a famous hill station in Tamil Nadu where he observed  two varieties of  odd-looking Anopheles mosquitoes that were believed to be the carriers of the germ and he could confirm his observation only later. He dissected the mosquitoes after they had bitten his volunteers, and  on 20 August 1896, a clinical  experiment with a patient showed the dapple-winged Anopheles mosquito was the culprit and a carrier of the parasite plasmodium. This unexpected discovery was of immense value to the tropical and subtropical countries where people died in thousands caused by malarial fever in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Ross memorial is located on the Northern wall of the Presidency General (PG) Hospital, Kolkata where Dr. Ross resumed his  pioneering work in the later part of 1800s by using the birds for his research on the parasites. A plaque on the boundary wall of SSKM Hospital, Calcutta, 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.”

DNA India
 Sir Ronald Ross, medical doctor with the Indian Medical Service under the British Raj had  thrown open a different scientific path on the fundamental principle for  successful research on the disease and methods of combating Malaria. Ross and his assistants focused on the history and life cycle of the malaria parasite in 1898.  After his retirement in 1899, he visited Calcutta from England in 1927 to unveil the plaque at SSKM.
Ronald Ross building Secunderabad.
Ross himself unveiled  the plaque on  7 January  1927 in the presence of Lord Lytton,” according to
Ranen Dasgupta, a retired endocrinologist and general secretary of the Sir Ronald Ross Memorial Centre.

Ross' Secunderabad connection:

On 20 August 1897 Ronald Ross here  in Secunderabad surprisingly discovered how malarial parasites were transmitted among the humans by the Anopheles mosquitoes.

The malaria archives of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the most authentic document that says: 

On 20 August, 1897, in Secunderabad, [Ronald] Ross made his landmark discovery. While dissecting the stomach tissue of an anopheline mosquito fed four days previously on a malarial patient, he found the malaria parasite and went to prove the role of the Anopheles mosquitoes in the transmission of malaria parasites in humans…. He continued his research into malaria in India, using a more convenient experimental model, malaria in birds.
plague at Secunderabad SRRIP
 It is highly deplorable the memorial in Kolkata and the Ross lab in Begumpet in Secunderabad, Telengana  state are  poorly maintained; the later that saw some restoration work in the past, is partially damaged here and there because of hooligans and vandals. Since it is in a secluded area, tourists rarely visit this historical lab. The government must take steps to protect it from antisocial elements and hobos. This place is a constant reminder to us about a man who was responsible for saving the humanity from the menace of malaria.