tropical medicine

tropical medicine

tropical medicine, study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of certain diseases prevalent in the tropics. The warmth and humidity of the tropics and the often unsanitary conditions under which so many people in those areas live contribute to the development and dissemination of many infectious diseases and parasitic infestations. Much has been achieved in combating such typical tropical diseases as yellow fever, amebic dysentery, and filariasis (elephantiasis). Better public health measures and therapeutic agents have assisted in the fight. The World Health Organization and philanthropic foundations have worked with local and international efforts to bring about medical advances. The deployment of American troops in malaria-infested regions spurred the search for more efficient synthetic antimalarial drugs. DDT, introduced in World War II to eradicate the malaria-carrying mosquito, has been found to have lingering toxic effects in the environment, and the persistent use of DDT in China for rice pests has produced DDT-resistant mosquitoes that now carry malaria. Resistance of the malarial parasite to chloroquine and Fansidar, the most widely used drugs for the protection of travelers in the tropics, has made both drugs virtually useless in most of Asia, Africa, and South America. A new drug, mefloquine, is effective in some areas but has many serious side effects. Current research is directed at making a vaccine against malaria. There have also been advances against hookworm, leprosy, and other tropical maladies. The emergence in central Africa of the Ebola virus, which exists in an as yet unknown host and is fatal to 50%-90% of those infected, has been especially challenging to medical personnel in underequipped hospitals where outbreaks have occurred.

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM or the "London School") is a constituent college of the University of London, specialising in public health and tropical medicine. The London School is an internationally recognised centre of excellence in public health, international health and tropical medicine with a remarkable depth and breadth of expertise.

Founded by Sir Patrick Manson in 1899, The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is a renowned research-led postgraduate medical school which presents unrivalled opportunities for postgraduate study of the major disciplines related to public health and tropical medicine to students from all over the world.

Seeking to offer challenge, choice and individual learning, the School is particularly noted for the excellence of its postgraduate medical training, providing one third of the UK's postgraduate medical education and research.

The School's mission is: To contribute to the improvement of health worldwide through the pursuit of excellence in research, postgraduate teaching and advanced training in national and international public health and tropical medicine, and through informing policy and practice in these areas.

Academic strengths The School is part of the University of London and is the University's major resource for postgraduate teaching and research in public health and tropical medicine. On successful completion of their studies, students gain a University of London degree.

Teaching and training are carried out by dedicated academic staff who are leaders in their fields and have considerable links with key universities and research institutions around the world, together with extensive academic, practical and international experience.

In the UK Higher Education RAE 2001, the School achieved high scores of 5 in all areas assessed. In 2003, the School underwent an institutional audit by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) and was awarded the highest grade.


The School was founded in 1899 by Sir Patrick Manson as the London School of Tropical Medicine and located at the Albert Dock Seamen's Hospital in the London Docklands. Manson was a physician who worked in the Far East in the 1860s-1880s, where he encountered tropical diseases and was frustrated by his lack of knowledge. On his return to London, among other roles, he was appointed Medical Advisor to the Colonial Office. He believed that doctors should be trained in tropical medicine, to treat the many British citizens who were dying of tropical diseases that could have been treated if colonial doctors knew more about these diseases. The original School was established as part of the Seamen's Hospital Society, it has its origins in the hospital ships which were docked on the Thames at Greenwich.

In 1920 the School moved, with the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, to Endsleigh Gardens in central London, taking over a former hotel which had been used as a hospital for officers during the First World War. In 1921 the Athlone Committee recommended the creation of an institute of state medicine, which built on a proposal by the Rockefeller Foundation to develop a London-based institution that would lead the world in the promotion of public health and tropical medicine. This enlarged School, now named the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine was granted its Royal Charter in 1924.

The main School building is in Keppel Street in Bloomsbury. This building was opened in 1929 by HRH the Prince of Wales. The purchase of the site and the cost of a new building was made possible through a generous gift of $2m from the Rockefeller Foundation. A competition to design the new School building was held involving five architects, all experienced in laboratory design and construction. This was won by Morley Horder and Verner Rees.

Deans of the School

Awards bestowed by the School


Further reading

  • Lise Wilkinson and Anne Hardy, Prevention and cure: the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine: a 20th century quest for global public health, Kegan Paul Limited, 2001, ISBN 0-7103-0624-5

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