William Boog Leishman


William Boog Leishman

Sir William Boog Leishman. Photomechanical print by after Ba Wellcome V0026696.jpg
Sir William Boog Leishman
Born(1865-11-06)6 November 1865
Glasgow, Scotland
Died2 June 1926(1926-06-02) (aged 60)
London, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service1887–1926
Commands heldDirector General Army Medical Services
Battles/warsNorth-West Frontier
First World War
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
Knight Bachelor
Mentioned in Despatches (3)
Legion of Honour (France)
Army Distinguished Service Medal (United States)

Lieutenant-General Sir William Boog Leishman, KCB, KCMG, FRS (/ˈlʃmən/, 6 November 1865 – 2 June 1926) was a Scottish pathologist and British Army medical officer. He was Director-General of Army Medical Services from 1923 to 1926.[1]


Leishman was born in Glasgow and attended Westminster School and the University of Glasgow and entered the Royal Army Medical Corps. He served in India, where he did research on enteric fever and kala-azar. He returned to the United Kingdom and was stationed at the Victoria Hospital in Netley in 1897. In 1900 he was made Assistant Professor of Pathology in the Army Medical School, and described a method of staining blood for malaria and other parasites—a modification and simplification of the existing Romanowsky method using a compound of methylene blue and eosin, which became known as Leishman's stain.

In 1901, while examining pathologic specimens of a spleen from a patient who had died of kala azar (now called "visceral leishmaniasis"), he observed oval bodies and published his account of them in 1903. Charles Donovan of the Indian Medical Service independently found such bodies in other kala azar patients, and they are now known as Leishman–Donovan bodies (not to be confused with Donovan bodies, which are found in Granuloma inguinale, which is caused by Klebsiella granulomatis) and recognized as the protozoan that causes kala azar, Leishmania donovani.

Leishman's name was engraved into the history of parasitology by Sir Ronald Ross, who was impressed by Leishman's work and classified the etiologic agent of kala azar into the separate genus Leishmania. The parasitic organisms from this genus were described earlier by Peter Borovsky in 1892.[2]

Leishman also helped elucidate the life cycle of Spirochaeta duttoni, which causes African tick fever, and, with Almroth Wright, helped develop an effective anti-typhoid inoculation.

He was president of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in 1911–1912.

He is buried in Highgate Cemetery in London.


Leishman's name features on the Frieze of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Twenty-three names of public health and tropical medicine pioneers were chosen to feature on the School building in Keppel Street when it was constructed in 1926.[3]

See also


  1. ^ "Obituary Notices of Fellows Deceased-William Boog Leishman". Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The Royal Society. 102 (720): i–xxvii. 2 April 1928. doi:10.1098/rspb.1928.0019. JSTOR 81250.
  2. ^ Cox F. E. G. (October 2002). "History of Human Parasitology". Clin Microbiol Rev. American Society for Microbiology. 15 (4): 595–612. doi:10.1128/CMR.15.4.595-612.2002. PMC 126866. PMID 12364371.
  3. ^ "Behind the Frieze". LSHTM. Archived from the original on 22 February 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2017.