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Commemorative Plaques Record Details

Sir Patrick Manson (1844 - 1922)

Picture of the Palque

Location : Cruickshank Building, Chanonry

Area : Central Aberdeen

Plaque Type : Yellow

About Sir Patrick Manson : Father of Tropical Medicine. Born in Old Meldrum he attended school in the Gym (Chanonry House) School in Old Aberdeen. He later graduated from Aberdeen University as M.D. in 1866. He was the first person to recognise that insects carry diseases and he set up what would become Hong Kong University’s Medical School as well as being instrumental in founding the London School of Tropical Medicine.

More Information : Born 3 October 1844 in Oldmeldrum, where there is a plaque erected (by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) in July 1955 to commemorate his birth. He attended school at the Gym (Chanonry House School) in Old Aberdeen and the Academy. He went on to study medicine at the University of Aberdeen and graduated M.B., C.M. in 1865 and M.D. in 1866. After graduation he moved to China staying in Formosa (Taiwan) where in 1866 he became Medical Officer of Formosa for the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs. He then moved to Amoy in 1871. In Amoy, following his interest in the disease elephantiasis, he discovered the larvae (developmental phase) of filaria worms in the tissues of blood-sucking mosquitoes. He found also that they only appeared in patient’s blood stream at night, when the mosquitoes fed. He first published this conclusive demonstration, that insects carry diseases, in 1877. However he thought that the larvae passed from mosquitoes to people via drinking water. In 1883 he moved to Hong Kong where he set up the College of Medicine for Chinese with James Cantlie (1851-1926) that would become the medical school of the University of Hong Kong. In 1889 he returned to Britain. Here he became physician to the Seaman’s Hospital in 1892 and he lectured widely on tropical medicine, including a series of lectures on the subject at St George’s Hospital. This earned him the appointment of Medical Advisor to the Colonial Office in 1897. Through his influence in this position money was secured from the Treasury which was used to enable the foundation of the then London School of Tropical Medicine. The School opened in 1899 at the Branch Hospital of the Seaman’s Hospital in Albert Dock. In 1895 he suggested to Ronald Ross (1857-1932) that mosquitoes were involved in the transmission of malaria. He then guided Ross’ subsequent research which went on to prove the connection in 1897, for which Ross was knighted in 1922, the same year that Manson died. His textbook Tropical Diseases (1898) became the standard work for many years. During his life he received many honours including being made FRS in 1900 and KCMG in 1903, an HonDSc from Oxford in 1904 and an HonLL.D from Cambridge in 1921. His obituary appeared in The Times of 10 April 1922, where he was described as an ‘Empire Builder’. There is a biography of him by his son-in-law, Sir Philip Manson-Bahr entitled Patrick Manson. The Father of Tropical Medicine (London, Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd, 1962). Some of Manson’s papers and diaries, and correspondence between Manson and Ross at the time of Ross’ malaria research are held at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Archives whilst other case notes (from China) are held by the Wellcome Library. This plaque is erected on the old Gym School part of what is now the Cruickshank building (part of the University of Aberdeen) in the Chanonry, Old Aberdeen.

Sponsor : The plaque is sponsored by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.