Sir Malcolm Watson Scotland England Malaysia

Biography of Sir Malcolm Watson

Sir Malcolm Watson
Sir Malcolm Watson

Born in Cathcart, near Glasgow, on the 24th August 1873, Malcolm Watson was the son of George Watson, a Commercial Traveller. After an education at Glasgow High School, Malcolm first matriculated at the University of Glasgow in the summer of 1890 at the age of 16. He signed up to study Botany, Practical Botany and Anatomy and so began his medical career.

Malcolm would study the typical medical subjects like Surgery, Pathology, Materia Medica and Midwifery but in his final year, 1894-95, he would find time to squeeze in the study of English Literature also.

He was certainly a very promising student and picked up three First Class Certificates. He was in fact listed as first in his class for Clinical Surgery in 1891-92 and continued this trend by winning the William Cullen Medal for the subject in 1893-94. Malcolm Watson graduated on the 25th July 1895 with an MB CM and a commendation. He would proceed to MD in 1903 with a thesis titled: ‘The effect of drainage on malaria’.

As soon as he qualified, Malcolm travelled to places such as South Africa, Australia, Singapore, and the Philippines and joined the Malayan Medical Service in 1900 at the age of 27. In Malaya, he became the pioneer of malarial control and, importantly, was able to establish the causes of the deadly disease. He would remain a very important figure in the study of malaria and was heavily involved in the fight against the disease all his life.

Malcolm Watson became the Principal of the Department of Malaria Control at the Ross Institute and Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London. Because of his long friendship with Ronald Ross, the Ross family gave Malcolm (after the death of Ronald) a silver casket that had been presented to Ronald by the 1087 Anti-Malaria and Public Health Societies of Bengal for his work on malaria. Sir Malcolm Watson presented this casket to the University of Glasgow in 1946-47 and it is now part of the University's silver collection.

He was knighted in 1924 for his services in Malaya and the University of Glasgow conferred upon him the honorary degree of LLD in the same year.

Sir Malcolm Watson died on the 28th December 1955, aged 82.


Sir Malcolm Watson
Born 24 August 1873.
Died 28 December 1955.
GU Degrees: MB CM, 1895; MD, 1903; LLD, 1938;
University Link: Graduate
Occupation categories: Malariologist
Search for this person in the DNB
Record last updated: 21st Jan 2016

Country Associations

Scotland Scotland, Cathcart
Place of Birth

England England, Surrey, Guildford
Place of Death

Malaysia Malaysia, No Region