Did you know that it was a Jamaican who:


Photo courtesy of Dr. Paula Tennant

1.Developed the ortanique

2.Developed several breeds of cattle that now thrive in the Tropics

3.Created Canasol, a ganja-based eyedrop for glaucoma treatment

4.Won the Nobel Peace Prize

5.Created the JaipurKnee, an affordable prosthetic knee

6.Was the first person in the Caribbean to create a bio-engineered fruit

7.Discovered the cause of the disease Kwashiorkor

8.Identified the Aedes Aegypti mosquito as the carrier of dengue fever

9.Created a formula that will eliminate prostate cancer

10.Isolated a compound to fight several types of cancer such as melanoma, lung and  breast cancer

Everyone knows that Jamaica is the land of Reggae Musicians and Olympic Sprinters. But fewer people are aware that Jamaica is also home to several notable scientists and inventors. This list introduces just ten of the remarkable creative achievements that Jamaica has produced.

The Ortanique


Photo by Marco Teixeira de Freitas

Have you ever tasted an ortanique? This citrus fruit, which is a cross between a tangerine and an orange, was originally developed in the hills of Mandeville, Jamaica by David Daniel Phillips, JP, in the late 19th century. Phillips, who happens to be the grand uncle to the current Minister of Finance of Jamaica, Dr. Peter Phillips, originally decided to call the fruit a ‘tangelo. This name was later changed to ortanique, which is the name it is known by today.

Most ortaniques are still grown in the parish of Manchester in Jamaica. Since this fruit thrives in altitudes of 100ft or more, the cool climate and bauxite rich soils are ideal for the growing of this crop. Efforts to grow the fruit elsewhere have failed to reproduce the distinctive flavor of Manchester grown ortaniques.

2          Cattle – bred for the Tropics


Photo by USDAgov

The Jamaica Hope, the Jamaica Red and Jamaica Black are three breeds of cattle specifically developed to live in tropical conditions. They are the work of scientist Dr. Thomas P. Lecky. In 1925,  Lecky noticed that the cattle being raised in Jamaica were slow to mature, produced no more than 4 litres of milk per day, and had little meat around the haunches and ribs. On the other hand, they were strong, excellent for hauling carts, and were also resistant to tick fever and other tropical diseases.

It was at this time that Lecky decided to develop an animal that was better suited for Jamaican needs. After migrating to study animal genetics at McGill University in Montreal, and Animal Husbandry at The University of Toronto, he returned to Jamaica to begin his cross-breeding experiments. Finally, in the 1950s, after twenty years of work, he produced the Jamaica Hope.

This breed, the first to be developed, was small enough to navigate the hillsides, could produce as much as 12 litres of milk per day, was resistant to diseases and adapted to the tropics. Lecky’s work revolutionized the dairy industry in Jamaica and caught the attention of scientists from around the world who came to examine his work.

3          Canasol, a ganja-based eye-drop for glaucoma treatment

Photo by Alexodus

Photo by Alexodus

Canasol was developed through the hard work and scientific research of two notable Jamaicans: pharmacologist, Professor Manley West, and ophthalmologist, Dr Albert Lockhart. It was an important breakthrough drug as it was the first glaucoma eye medication in the Caribbean to be developed at UWI, Mona, and it does not induce the negative side effects that similar synthetic drugs are known for.

Professor West remembers being told by country folk that washing their eyes in ganja water made them see better, and fishermen claimed that drinking ganja tea improved their vision, particularly at night. Meanwhile, Dr. Lockhart noted that his Rastafarian patients who used ganja, had few incidences of glaucoma. From these observations, the two men became interested in working with ganja in order to discover its potential medical benefits. Ten years later, Canasol was the result.

4          The Nobel Peace Prize for Work against Climate Change

Were you aware that a Jamaican has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize? In 2007, Professor Anthony Chen was part of a group that received The Nobel Peace Prize jointly with former US Vice President Al Gore. The group is the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), and they were recognized “for their efforts to spread information about climate change, and to lay the foundations for counteracting such change.”

5          The JaipurKnee, an affordable prosthetic knee

Photo courtesy of www.d-rev.org

Photo courtesy of http://www.d-rev.org

In 2009, Joel Sadler, who was only 25 years old, along with his American teammates Eric Thorsell, Ayo Roberts and Angelo Szychowski created an affordable artificial knee that is being used in India by thousands of amputees. The JaipurKnee costs only US$20, as opposed to high end titanium joints made in the US that can cost anywhere upwards of US$10,000.

The prosthesis was developed by Stanford University in collaboration with the Jaipur Foot Group, which is a charity that provides prostheses to Indian amputees.

The young men developed the idea while working on a class project in January 2008 as part of their Masters Degree Program. On a trip to India, they met amputee, 17 yr old Kamal who inspired them to make a low cost artificial knee containing just five high performance plastic parts, and four nuts and bolts. It was built to last a minimum of 3 years with normal use.

The JaipurKnee was rated number 18 on the Time Magazine 50 best inventions of 2009.

6         The Solo Sunrise, a disease resistant papaya


Photo courtesy of Dr. Paula Tennant

The Solo Sunrise is a strain of papaya that is resistant to the devastating Ring Spot disease. This fruit was developed by Dr. Paula Tennant, Jamaican plant biotechnologist.

When the Ring Spot disease threatened to wipe out papaya crops across Jamaica, the Jamaican government solicited advice from Cornell University, which set up a lab at the University to study this problem.  Tennant was selected to go and work in that lab. She was able to identify the features of the Jamaican strain of virus, which was a mutated version of the strains seen in other countries. The usual solution to the problem, if unable to cure the disease, would be to find a resistant fruit, or develop an immune papaya through cross-breeding, Efforts in this area were proving unsuccessful.

Through Cornell, Tennant then successfully learned how to manipulate the genes of the fruit to create a genetically modified, disease resistant strain. She is the first person in the Caribbean to develop a bio-engineered product.

7          Kwashiorkor identified as a protein deficiency disease

Photo by Teseum

Photo by Teseum

Most of the developed world has never encountered, Kwashiorkor. However, this disease was the cause of a great deal of suffering in Africa in 1929, when Jamaican medical doctor, Dr. Cicely Williams, first identified its cause, and set about educating persons on how to prevent it.

It was while working in Ghana, where she spent seven years, that she first encountered this disease, which the locals had named kwashiorkor. She learned that the name meant ‘the sickness a child gets when the next baby is born‘. Through her investigations, Williams was able to determine that kwashiorkor was caused by a lack of protein. She began to treat patients with a mixture of beans and grain. Her discovery of the cause of this disease, and her treatment of it, was one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century.

8          Aedes Aegypti discovered to be the carrier of Dengue fever


Photo by Thell

If you are aware that dengue fever is spread by the aedes aegypti breed of mosquito, then you have benefited from the research of Jamaican microbiologist, pathologist and medical doctor, Professor Louis Grant.

In the 1940s, a strange fever began to present itself in Jamaica. Grant was able to identify it as dengue fever but no-one knew how it had arrived in Jamaica. His research led him to conclude that it was being spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito, the breed responsible for spreading yellow fever. Through a public education campaign he was able to control this disease and greatly reduce its spread.

9         Cure for Prostate cancer


Photo by MiriaGrunick

A cure for prostate cancer is already in the making, and Jamaica scientist Dr. Henry Lowe is responsible. In 2010, Lowe announced that he had created a cancer-fighting formula from the main ingredient in the plant known as Ball moss, and that this formula would eliminate prostate cancer. In February 2012, Lowe made the product available in nutraceutical form. The product is called Alpha Prostate Formula 1 and it is made under the Eden Gardens Brand. The product has been certified under FDA approved guidelines and is certified for export to the USA and other countries.

10  A Cure for a range of cancers.

In 2010, Dr. Lawrence Williams announced that he had been awarded an international patent on a compound isolated from the Guinea Hen Weed. The Jamaican Scientific Research Council says that this complex has the ability to kill a wide range of cancers including melanoma, lung and breast cancer.

Williams has already dedicated more than 13 years to this research. The next stage involves conducting clinical trials of the compound and development of a pharmaceutical agent. Rights to the patent are shared by Dr. George Levy, a Jamaican-born doctor living in the United States.


Johnson, A. (2001) Great Jamaicans, Book II, Scientists, Kingston: TeeJay Ltd.

photo credit: Marcos Teixeira de Freitas via photopin cc
photo credit: USDAgov via photopin cc
photo credit: Alexodus via photopin cc
photo credit: Thell via photopin cc
photo credit: Teseum via photopin cc
photo credit: MiriaGrunick via photopin cc

About Theresa C Givans

I was born and raised on the rock, that is, my awesome island home, Jamaica. I currently reside in the cool hills of Mandeville, where I spend my time writing fiction, blogging, and hanging out with my husband and three children who keep me laughing every day.

Posted on February 5, 2014, in Blog Posts and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 71 Comments.

  1. Elliot Douglin BSc; MBBS.

    Wonderful acheivements by brilliant Jamaicans . A beautiful and wonderful island! I am particularly interested in the phytopharmacology
    Dr. Lowes expertise.
    Dr. Elliot Douglin, Barbados.

  2. Carlene Elliott

    Super wonderful news and information. I’m a proud Jamaican.

  3. It’s wonderful to read about notable Jamaicans outside of the music industry, and I feel a bit prouder to be an American of Jamaican decent each time I discover a great one. “Each one teach one and every ting will be irie.”

  4. We should highlight more of theses positive and interesting things about Jamaica instead of the negative stuff which makes most of Jamaicans seem like murderers and criminals.

    “Wi likkle but wi talawah” I am very proud to be Jamaican. Julette Stewartson

  5. Four years ago I was diagnosed of diabetes, as if the pains of diabetes wasn’t bad enough Last year I was also diagnosed of cancer which was more critical in my case because of the diabetes which I already had. It was as if my world had come to an end cause the doctor told me that it was only by the grace of the almighty that I was alive to receive their diagnosis. As usual I was given few weeks to live but the pains I went through made each day feel like my last and I was so scared cause I wasn’t ready to leave this world yet, I had a lot of things that I wanted to do that I hadn’t done yet and I knew the almighty wouldn’t call on me before I started my mission on earth. My little niece told me about Rick Simpson cannabis oil when she came visiting, she told me she heard her friend’s mom talking about it and she persuaded me to look it up, I watched some of his videos and read some comments online and I was pleased with what I saw so I gave him a call and sent him an email We talked and I was convinced that he was my ticket to my new dawn. I purchased the oil and I have being following the prescription that I was given for the past two months and there has being rapid improvement in my health, I no longer feel pains and I wake up each morning feeling revived, energized and rejuvenated.If passing through this pain, please contact Ricks on Email.ricksimpsoncannabisoils@outlook.com.

  6. I love you paula tennant

  7. This is GREAT! All Jamaicans should spread this : JAMAICA is the most Beautiful and Most POPULAR ISLAND ON EARTH.
    You have begun this (spreading). I vow to continue.
    Much THANKS.

  8. Fab post, I spent many summer holidays at the Phillips home in Davyton, Manchester, and ate the ortinique fruit as a child non-stop. Did not know how important they were at the time, the entire family were friends of my mother, and we had lovely holidays with them. Keep up the good work, Jamaicans need all the praise they can get, as its usually the opposite reaction in the press.

  9. I am not surprised at all. This type of info comes out in drips and drabs. especially the info of the Nobel Prize shared by Prof. Chen. Jamaica`s story runs closely to the great contributions made by Blacks, such as the development of the stop light. Words and names are not sufficient to deter the negatives. As in criminal blasts, the names, pictures and diversity of these men and women of great achievements should be alongside their great contributions to Jamaica and the world. Thank you for you effort in highlighting these great Jamaicans.

  10. love it.

  11. That you very much. Nothing like a little Jamaican pride to get the day going!

  12. Wow am so grateful for the good Rick Simpson (rickcancercure01@qq.com) did for me and my family for curing my husband’s prostate cancer of 3 years. My name is Suzane Clark from Oklahoma USA, June 2 2010 my husband was diagnosed of prostate cancer and he had done all sorts of treatments (chemo, radio and herbal) and his doctor still gave no hope for his condition, after his last chemo treatment on 10/08/2013 the doctor told him that he had 8 months to live. When I heard this I was disappointed, frustrated and full of pain that the one I love so much would leave me and my children all alone in this world. One faithful day my uncle called and told me about Rick Simpson cannabis oil and how it cured his 48 years old neighbor so I became very interested in this cure, my uncle and I decided to do some research about the Rick Simpson cannabis oil and I found it very interesting, so I decided to purchase the oil. I called my uncle and asked him for Rick’s direct contact, so I could discuss with him. I contacted Rick Simpson(rickcancercure01@qq.com) he told me what to do to purchase the oil and how to use the oil I followed his instructions dutifully and now I can proudly say that my husband is cancer free, all thanks to Rick Simpson for restoring my lost hope.

  13. I am so glad I found this gem. Your blog is Great! Thank you.

  14. Very interesting. Cannabis Oil, made from a certain brand of Ganga, has been street proven to cure Cancer, and almost all/most illness’s. However, FDA approval is restricted by the big drug manufactures, because they cannot patent natural products, so restricted ability to create extraordinary income they put as a priority. Can any of these Jamaican products be purchased in Jamaica?

  15. I had heard of some of these eg Ortanique, Jamaica Hope, Dr Cecily Williams, who is from Westmoreland, & Canasol.
    However this format is great to share with friends & family worldwide !
    Do keep up the research on little known positive facts on Ja, & continue to share !

    God bless you !

  16. St. Hellen E Mitchell

    Fantastic! I know that we are a very special people who is gifted beyond measure. Just look in the word , we always stand out.. Jamaica mi luv ya!

  17. Very nice though I really can’t deal with the lizard!



  19. Keep up the fantastic work sister.

  20. Thanks for the time and energy you’ve put into making this information available to us. Totally appreciated.

  21. Colleen Pottinger

    Very informative and enlightening.

  22. Excellent actually we Jamaicans never stop inventing stuff we invented a whole host of swear words such as Rass Clath which is actually back from the day ass cloth use for wiping the bum before toilet paper was used. I will leave the rest of the swear words up to your imagination. proud to be Jamaican ha ha

  23. I endorse the sentiments of all my friends who have written above. I heard a “Trini” yesterday say that he envied Jamaicans their pride!Keep stirring it up TCG!!! …(I came from Mandeville too!)

  24. Also my father , denis duquesnay, for a few years , took care of the 1st Jam. Hope dairy/beef herd for Harold / Lindo. then owner of wray & nephew in the 40’s & 50’s @ our farm near spanish town.. We also took care of the Holstein bull ‘hurricane’ imported from england as a show winning 6 month calf costing english L3000.00.0 a fabulous amount in those days, a most vicious brute-extremely agressive- 3000lbs of mean animal, around whom the jam hope herd was built. So believe me when i tell you that 1 cow (queen or star 1st) gave up to 32 imp.qrts/day–8 imp glns.and the rest of those cows gave very little less..i remember many in the 20+ imp qrts bracket..They also had their sire’s mean temper. The mysore cow that started the breed with ‘hurricane’ was a heavy milker for an indian cow , giving 6 qrts..but we also had peaceable jersey’s that gave around 8-12 qrts/day.

  25. actually i believe that the ortanique is a cross of common mandarin / valencia orange & the tangelo is from tangarine/valencia. To me the ortanique is a superb fruit but the tangelo is rather insipid..i have eaten both and they are distinctly different in shape, colour inside ( ortanique is deep orange- tangelo is pale yellow) and taste.

  26. I have totally enjoyed absorbing all this information about my people. I live in Barbados and being away from Jamaica means that most of the word out of and from non-Jamaicans is quite negative. Unless its our achievements through sports or our music/musicians (YAY 4 Tessanne), there’s very little else to masticate besides the very negative politics, crime and poverty. To tell you the truth, I am SO TIRED of that diet!!!! So THANK YOU for adding something quite delectable to our depressing diets!!!! No question, I’m gonna share this with ma peeps!!

  27. Shirley Cridland

    Excellent! Very uplifting for any Jamaican. A great way to reach many who have never heard of these outstanding achievements.

  28. First thanks for the time you you have spent in doing this. I am very proud to pass this on to my friends around the world Very well done, please continue. DAG

  29. Thanks for the information very insightful. It is good to see something positive about Jamaica for a change. Be blessed

  30. I recently learned they came up with the idea of adding chocolate to milk thus creating chocolate milk in Jamaica.

  31. This is very good and interesting information that I was not completely aware of.
    Jamaicans and the world need to have this kind of information instead of or along with the many negative news that is usually sent out. There is a lot of good things happening in Jamaica, done by Jamaicans which needs to be published which will motivate Jamaicans to do good things and use their abilities and talents to build Jamaica.
    Thank you for exposing and initiating this positive presentation

  32. Thalia in Jamaica

    I feel so proud of my island home and intelligent for having read this. Going to spread the word!!! JAMAICANS are AWESOME!

  33. Simply awesome. So proud to be a Jamaican.

  34. Very interesting! The Ortanique is my favorite fruit from the citrus family..It is most enjoyable close to the end of the crop. I knew it was a cross over between tangerine and orange. However, what I wasn’t aware of, is when and where it was first produced. I’ve seen it in NW Clarendon. Wasn’t aware it was in Manchester as that part of the Island is not known for citrus. One particular fruit is missing that is indigenous to Jamaica… “THE UGLY FRUIT.” I’ve only seen it on farm in NW Clarendon and in supermarkets in New York.

    • You are right. If I am not mistaken it is also the same D.D. Phillips who developed the Ugli fruit before the ortanique. I did not include it because it is not as well known.

      • the Ugli is well known. It is The first trade marked fruit that I know of and the copyright still exists . It is a common clue in in Cross word puzzles . the fruit is sold word wide but isnot produced in jamaica

    • Everyone who know anything about Manchester, know it’s a citrus producing parish.. Almost everyone has artinique , and Grove Place farm sells the young plants…We ate so much as children, they’re the best..

  35. Great article. Correction though, it’s Dr. Paula Tennant, not Pennant.

  36. Informative and interesting


  38. When are we going to stop propagating this myth that we have found a “cure” for prostate cancer. If this is in fact so the scientific and medical community and indeed the entire world have been kept in the dark. Please share the evidence of this groundbreaking discovery

    • My understanding is that the final product is still 10-20yrs and millions of US$ away. However, the initial research has been done and what is needed is for it to be developed into a saleable medicine. Perhaps someone with a better understanding of how medicines are developed can respond. Meanwhile, this is the link to Dr. Lowe’s speech at the launch of the nutraceuticals where he indicates that he made a presentation of his research to the American Association of Cancer Research, and that the US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, has signed off on the certificate of free sale, for the nutraceuticals to be sold in the US.

    • the ginnea hen weed has caused several cases of prostate cancer to enter remission in jamaica. In the lab a extract of ginger has been shown to kill prostate cancer cell.s research results can be found on google

  39. We need to highlight more of the achievements of Jamaica and Jamaicans and less of the negatives.

  40. Good. Now put it in a book and take it to the classroom. We spend a lot of time learning about other people and not enough time learning about what we have done. this will help to motivate the young to let them know it is not just reggae music but other stuff and they too can join the elite. Jamaica is not just crime, but brains too.

  41. Awesome! Didn’t know that! Love my country.

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