Professor Ralph Lainson OBE FRS
Ralph Lainson was well known his work on parasitic protozoa, especially leishmania. His greatest contribution was the elucidation of the Leishmania complex in Latin America whereby the identification and epidemiology of the different subspecies led to a new approach to the subject. Since 1965, from the small but highly productive Wellcome Parasitology Unit in Amazonia, he carried out extensive field and laboratory studies on the vertebrate and sandfly hosts of the parasite, incriminating and identifying new vectors, new animal reservoirs and new forms of Leishmania. He showed that the pathology and prognosis of human leishmania infections, apparently so variable, depend upon the particular subspecies of parasite involved and scientific methods can now be applied to reduce the incidence of this largely incurable and mutilating tropical disease. Ralph was a protozoologist whose brilliant work has enabled him to unravel difficult problems also in malaria, toxoplasmosis, coccidiosis and other parasitic infections; he described many new species in reptiles, birds and mammals in temperate and tropical regions.
Professor Ralph Lainson OBE FRS died on 5 May 2015.