Patrick Manson was born in 1844 and studied medicine at Aberdeen University, passing M.B. and C.M. in 1865. In 1866 he became medical officer of Formosa (Taiwan) for the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs, moving to Amoy in 1871. His light duties allowed him to work in local missionary hospitals, in contact with Chinese patients and their diseases and he became aware of the shortcomings of British medical training when faced with tropical diseases. While working on elephantoid diseases in Amoy, he discovered in the tissues of blood-sucking mosquitoes the developmental phase of filaria worms. Seminal papers were published in 1878 and 1878.
In 1883 he left Amoy to set up in private practice in Hong Kong, where he was joined in 1887 by James Cantlie. Together they established a medical college to train young Chinese men in western medicine. This school, which opened in 1887, developed into the university and medical school of Hong Kong.
In 1889 Manson returned to London due to deteriorating health, however he had to go back to work when his comfortable retirement fortune was decimated by a sharp fall in the value of the Chinese dollar. Manson went back into practice in London, became physician to the Seaman's Hospital Society in 1892, and medical advisor to Chamberlain's Colonial Office in 1897. He played a central role in the development of tropical medicine as a distinct discipline, publishing on tropical diseases and was instrumental in the setting up of the London School of Tropical Medicine in 1899. He worked in the School until 1912 when he retired due to poor health.
He propounded the theory that malaria was propagated by mosquitoes, a theory to be proved by Sir Ronald Ross in 1897. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1900 and awarded CMG, 1900, KCMG in 1903, and GCMG, 1912; he died in 1922.
From the guide to the Papers of Sir Patrick Manson, 1865-1964, (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)