Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Administrative / Biographical History

The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine was established in 1899 as the consequence of an idea for schools of tropical medicine formulated by Dr. Patrick Manson who at that time was Medical Adviser to the Colonial Office. In order to avoid government expenditure Joseph Chamberlain, then Secretary of State of the Colonies, invited medical schools and hospitals who regularly treated tropical diseases to start courses of instruction in tropical medicine. University College and the Royal Southern Hospital in Liverpool responded to such an idea and plans were made to raise the necessary financial support. Dr. Rupert Boyce, Professor of Pathology at University College, was appointed Dean of the new school; Alan Hay Milne, of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, appointed Secretary and Alfred Jones, a shipping magnate, Chairman. On the teaching side, Dr. H. E. Annett was appointed demonstrator in tropical pathology and Ronald Ross was appointed lecturer in tropical medicine in Apr 1899 at a salary of £250 per annum and a proportion of students’ fees. Later that year his salary was increased to £300 and further increased to £600 in January 1903 when he became the Sir Alfred Jones Professor of Tropical Medicine.

In 1902, prior to his departure for Freetown, Ross was offered the post as head of a new department of animal parasitology in the Jenner Institute of Preventive Medicine of which Lord Lister was chairman. Upon his return from Freetown therefore Ross resigned from his Liverpool post and at the end of Apr 1902 moved to London. However the new position at the Jenner Institute was not as satisfactory as he had hoped and he therefore resigned on 1st June 1902, was re-appointed Walter Myes Lecturer in Liverpool on 1st July 1902 and accepted the Sir Alfred Jones Chair of Tropical Medicine in December 1902. This final post he retained until 1913 when he again moved to London to the Marcus Beck Laboratory in the Royal Society of Medicine.

During the years he worked in Liverpool Ross visited Freetown and West Africa in 1899, 1901 and 1902, Ismailia in 1902, Stockholm in 1902 and 1910, Panama in 1904, Greece in 1906, Belgium in 1906, Mauritius in 1907-1908, Bombay in 1908, Russia in 1912 and Spain, Cyprus and Greece in 1913 either to initiate anti-malarial work throughout the world by means of correspondence with the person concerned and by the collection of pamphlets and press cuttings on the work being done. During this period of his life he was still firmly of the opinion that malaria prevention and control was an achievable proposition and that it would only need the resounding success of such a scheme as the Panama Canal Zone to overcome the apathy of governments and public health authorities. To this end therefore Ross played a very active part in encouraging and advising anti-malarial work. He advised the Suez Canal Company, the Lake Copais Company in Greece, and the South African Anti-Malarial Association on anti-malarial measures and similar advice was offered to British Guyana, Jamaica, Mauritius and other countries where malaria was prevalent.

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