International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    Sir Leonard Rogers

    Status Physician
    Country United Kingdom


    Leonard Rogers was born at Hartley House near Plymouth on 18 January 1868. He attended St Mary’s Hospital medical school from 1886 and passed the final examination for the FRCS (Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons) in 1892.

    In 1893 he entered the Indian Medical Service and conducted research as regimental medical officer, showing aptitude in this capacity. He was posted to the Bengal civil medical department at Calcutta in 1900, where he acted for the professor of pathology in the medical college and was the virtual holder of the post after 1904, and confirmed in it in 1906. Apart from the various tropical diseases that he worked on, leprosy appealed to him on both social and scientific grounds. He investigated the efficacy of chaulmoogra oil and stimulated others to recognise the early stages of leprosy. His interest in leprosy was life-long, especially epidemiology, prophylaxis and treatment.

    Rogers was instrumental in devising plans and raising funds for the construction of the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine, established in 1914. He also founded BELRA (British Empire Leprosy Relief Association) in 1923.

    He left India in 1920 due to ill health and retired from the Indian Medical Service in 1921, becoming a lecturer at the London School of Tropical Medicine. He was appointed to the India Office medical board as member in 1922 and was promoted to president in 1928.

    In 1911, Sir Rogers was appointed CIE and knighted in 1914. He was awarded KCSI in 1932 (an honour usually reserved for Governors and members of the Viceroy’s Council), and in 1933-5 was president of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

    Rogers died in Truro after a fall, on 16 September 1962.

    Information from George McRobert's biographical note on Leonard Rogers, Oxford University Press 1995, and International Journal of Leprosy, Centennial Festskrift edition, Vol 41, No 2. 1973.

    Treatment Used/Researched:
    Chaulmoogra oil

    Research Institute(s) associated with:
    Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine, Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, India (currently Calcutta, West Bengal, India)
    Sir Leonard Rogers was instrumental in setting up the Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine."Papers illustrating ten years of the foundation of the Calcutta School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (Section I-VII) 1910-1919" and "Papers and reports illustrating the progress of the school after Rogers retired from India at the end of Feburary 1920 (Section VIII)" describe and document Rogers' efforts in establishing the School. These are held at the Wellcome Library for the History of Medicine and Understanding.


    Leprosy, 1925, co-author with Ernest Muir (second edition in 1940).


    National Archives Repository  
    TLM International   National Archives Repository in Pretoria, South Africa, holds correspondence with Sir Rogers (1921-23)
    Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine   Wellcome Library, London, holds the manuscript collections of Sir Rogers (1868-1962). Autobiographical material and research notes, articles, etc, esp. re cholera, leprosy and tuberculosis, Indian Medical Service, 1893-1920, and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
    London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Archives   Collection of papers by Rogers on the following areas: kala-azar; cachexial fever; leprosy, phthisis, pneumonia and smallpox in India; leprosy in East Africa; cholera (treatment and epidemiology); dysentery; sprue; tuberculosis; dengue fever.

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