Hyderabad: As the capital is gearing up to celebrate the centenary year of Osmania University (OU), many are quite unaware of the university’s link to malaria, mosquitoes and Sir Ronald Ross, the Nobel prize winner for medicine in 1902.
It’s not just the classrooms of the Zoology Department of OU that are named in honour of Sir Ronald Ross, the university also manages the Sir Ronald Ross Institute of Parasitology, Begumpet, the place where the Nobel laureate made the great scientific leap of linking mosquitoes to malaria.
It was in 1897 that Sir Ronald Ross discovered that the parasite in the mosquito, when transmitted to humans through a mosquito bite, causes malaria. This path-breaking discovery was made at the Sir Ronald Ross Institute of Parasitology, Begumpet. Located behind Manohar Hotel in Begumpet and just a stone’s throw away from the old Begumpet airport, spotting the Institute of Parasitology is quite tricky.
Spread over two acres, the Parasitology institute also has a small museum with memorabilia and pictures of the era when Dr Ronald Ross used to conduct malaria experiments in Hyderabad. While the building and the museum have become mere historical structures, authorities at OU have been struggling hard to reinvent and make the Institute of Parasitology relevant for this day and age.
“Telangana does not have a research institution dedicated to vector-borne ailments. Due to adaptability of vectors like mosquitoes, in the future, such ailments will create a lot of public health crisis. There is a definite need for institutions dedicated to Parasitology,” says B Reddya Naik, director, Sir Ronald Ross Institute of Parasitology.
In 1897, the building was a hospital for the British troops and Dr Ronald Ross was employed as a medical officer in the facility. The museum consists of several articles including his research papers and diaries, which are part of exhibits in the museum. In 1975, the building was handed over to OU while the land belongs to the Airport Authority of India (AAI).
Dr Naik points out that the Institute of Parasitology is a part of medical history. “This is the place where Dr Ross discovered the link between mosquito and malaria. The discovery was epoch-making and it should inspire younger generations in Hyderabad,” says Dr Naik.