Howard Taylor Ricketts
|Howard Taylor Ricketts|
Howard Taylor Ricketts
|Born||February 9, 1871
Findlay, Ohio, United States
|Died||May 3, 1910 (aged 39)
Mexico City, Mexico
|Known for||blastomycosis, bacillus, typhus|
He was born in Findlay, Ohio. In the early part of his career, Ricketts undertook research at Northwestern University on blastomycosis. He later worked in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana and at the University of Chicago on Rocky Mountain spotted fever. This early pathology, entomology and epidemiology research in Hamilton, Montana lead to the eventual formation of the Rocky Mountain Laboratory there.
While in Montana, Ricketts and his assistant discovered that the vector that carried the pathogen for Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a tick, the Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni; some other species of ticks, such as the American dog or wood tick, Dermacentor variabilis, also are vectors). It was not at once clear what kind of organism the pathogen was; eventually it was named Rickettsia, the first of the Rickettsiales to be identified. However, for decades, until electron microscopy and other technologies became sufficiently advanced, it was not known whether Rickettsiales were bacteria, viruses, or something in between. They now are known to be bacteria specialised for intracellular parasitism.
Ricketts was devoted to his research and, on several occasions, injected himself with pathogens to study their effects. The pathogen causing Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Rickettsia rickettsii was named after him. After this eponymous genus, the larger family and order were given their names.
In 1910, Ricketts became interested in a strain of murine-carried typhus known as tabardillo due to a major outbreak in Mexico City, and the apparent similarity of the disease to spotted fever. Days after isolating the organism that he believed caused typhus, he himself died of the disease.
Ricketts was survived by his wife, Myra Tubbs Ricketts, and children. His family established an annual student research prize, the Howard Taylor Ricketts Prize, at the University of Chicago in 1912.
- Weiss, Emilio; Strauss, Bernard S. (27 December 1990) , "The Life and Career of Howard Taylor Ricketts" (PDF), Reviews of Infectious Diseases, The University of Chicago, 13: 1241–2, doi:10.1093/clinids/13.6.1241, retrieved 28 April 2011
- Margulis, Lynn; Betsy Palmer Eldridge (2005). "What a Revelation Any Science Is!" (PDF). ASM News. The American Society for Microbiology. 71 (2): 65–70. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- Willey, Joanne; Sherwood, Linda; Woolverton, Chris (2010). Prescott's microbiology. (8th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education. ISBN 978-0077350130.
- Enersen, Ole Daniel (1994–2011). "Who Named It? A dictionary of medical eponyms" (website). Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- "Building for a Long Future: The University of Chicago and its donors, 1889 - 1930" (website). The University of Chicago Library. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- Groß, Dominik; Schäfer, Gereon (1 January 2011). "100th Anniversary of the death of Ricketts: Howard Taylor Ricketts (1871–1910). The namesake of the Rickettsiaceae family". Microbes and Infection. 13 (1): 10–13. doi:10.1016/j.micinf.2010.09.008.
- Works by or about Howard Taylor Ricketts at Internet Archive
- "Howard Taylor Ricketts: Memorial Address at University of Chicago (15 May 1910) by Ludvig Hektoen" (website). Today in Science History. 1999–2011. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
- Ricketts, H.T. (1907). "A summary of investigations of the nature and means of transmission of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever" (website). Today in Science History. Retrieved 28 April 2011.