Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Sir William Leishmann
William Leisham was born in 1865 in Glasgow, Scotland. He was educated at Westminster School, London and took his medical degree at Glasgow, which he obtained in 1885, aged 20.
In 1886 he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps.
Unusually for the time he took a microscope with him when he was ordered to India to receive his baptism of fire in a military expedition to Waziristan on the Indian frontier. It was in India that he developed an interest in kala azar with which his name is permanently associated.
On his return to England he went to the Army Medical School at Netley, where he worked with Almroth Wright on the typhoid vaccine.
In 1900 Leishman was appointed Assistant Professor of Pathology at the Army Medical School and
identified a parasite which, at the suggestion of Ronald Ross, became known as Leishmania donovani as Leishman and Charles Donovan discovered them independently and published their findings within a few weeks of each other.
He was also connected with Sir Almroth Wright in the preparation of anti-typhoid vaccine which had a profound effect on the health of the soldier in peace and war. He was company Officer, No. 4 Company, when the corps was formed in 1898.
When the Royal Army Medical College moved to Millbank in 1903 Leishman succeeded Wright in the Chair of Pathology and continued his work on anti-typhoid vaccine which resulted in the successful protection of the troops during the First World War. He also traced part of the life cycle of the spirochaete.
During the war he held many advisory posts in England and in France and was awarded international honours. In the aftermath he supervised the inevitable cuts in the Army Medical Service with tact.
Behind the Frieze