Lives of the fellows

George Carmichael Low

b.14 October 1872 d.31 July 1952
MA St And MB CM Edin(1897) MD Edin FRCP(1924)

Born at Monifieth, Forfarshire, Carmichael Low was educated at Madras College, St. Andrews, and St. Andrews University, where he graduated in arts. He took the M.B., C.M., degrees at Edinburgh, with first-class honours, in 1897, and held house appointments at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Then, working in London under Manson, he found his true vocation in tropical medicine, and at his chief’s direction he continued his studies at Heidelberg and Vienna. On his return, he made a name for himself by demonstrating microscopically the fact that mosquitoes infect man with the larval filaria by the act of biting. He followed this success by confirming Ross’s observations on the transmission of malaria by means of an experiment conducted in 1900 by himself and two others : sleeping in a mosquito-proof house on the Roman Cam-pagna, they entirely avoided infection during their three months’ stay in a highly malarious area. He went abroad again a year later, as Craggs research scholar, to study filariasis in the West Indies. A further expedition in 1903 took him to Uganda as a member of the Royal Society’s commission for the study of sleeping sickness.

The greater part of Low’s career, however, was spent in London. In a long association with the London School of Tropical Medicine, he was first its superintendent and then lecturer, consulting pathologist, and director of its division of clinical tropical medicine. He was for a period pathologist at the West London Hospital and at various times lectured at the Postgraduate College, King’s College and the Westminster Hospital. During the first World War he held the rank of major in the I.M.S. and treated officers from India suffering from tropical illnesses. After the War he became physician to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases and to the Seamen’s Hospital. He was a member of the Colonial Advisory Medical committee. The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine owed its foundation in 1907 largely to his efforts and he was its secretary from 1912 to 1920 and its president from 1929 to 1933. Among honours he received were Edinburgh University’s Straits Settlements medal in 1912 and the Mary Kingsley medal of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in 1929. He was a contributor to Price’s Textbook of Medicine and other textbooks, and also wrote widely on his hobby, ornithology. He was an effective and entertaining teacher, the possessor of a dry Scottish sense of humour and lovable mannerisms. Low married in 1906 Edith, daughter of Joseph Nash; they had no children. He retired in 1937 and died at his home in London.

G H Brown

[Lancet, 1952; B.M.J., 1952; Times, 1 Aug. 1952]

(Volume IV, page 594)

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