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Fellows Directory

Ralph Lainson

Professor Ralph Lainson OBE FRS

Fellow


Elected: 1982

Biography

Ralph Lainson is well known his work on parasitic protozoa, especially leishmania. His greatest contribution has been the elucidation of the Leishmania complex in Latin America whereby the identification and epidemiology of the different subspecies have led to a new approach to the subject. Since 1965, from the small but highly productive Wellcome Parasitology Unit in Amazonia, he has 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 has shown 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 is a protozoologist whose brilliant work has enabled him to unravel difficult problems also in malaria, toxoplasmosis, coccidiosis and other parasitic infections; he has described many new species in reptiles, birds and mammals in temperate and tropical regions.