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Alan Lloyd Hodgkin

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Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, OM, KBE, FRS (born February 5, 1914, Banbury, Oxfordshire, England [1]; died December 20, 1998 Cambridge [2]) was a British physiologist and biophysicist, who won the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work with Andrew Fielding Huxley on the basis of nerve "action potentials," the electrical impulses that enable the activity of an organism to be coordinated by a central nervous system. Hodgkin and Huxley shared the prize that year with John Carew Eccles, who was cited for research on synapses. Hodgkin and Huxley's findings led the pair to hypothesize ion channels, which were confirmed only decades later.

The experimental measurements on which the pair based their action potential theory represent one of the earliest applications of a technique of electrophysiology known as the "voltage clamp". The second critical element of their research was the so-called giant axon of Atlantic squid (Loligo pealei), which enabled them to record ionic currents as they would not have been able to do in almost any other neuron, such cells being too small to study by the techniques of the time. The experiments took place at the University of Cambridge beginning in 1935 with frog sciatic nerve and continuing into the 1940s, after interruption by World War II.

During the war he volunteered to work on Aviation Medicine at Farnborough and was subsequently transferred to the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) where he worked on the development of centimetric radar, including the design of the Village Inn airborne gun-laying system.

Hodgkin and Huxley subsequently published their theory in 1952.

Confirmation of ion channels came with the development of the patch clamp, which led to a Nobel prize in 1991 to Erwin Neher and Bert Sakmann.

Hodgkin was educated at Gresham's School, Holt, Norfolk and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was knighted in 1972 and appointed to the Order of Merit in 1973. From 1970 to 1975 he was President of the Royal Society, and from 1978 to 1984 he was Master of Trinity College.

See also

References

  1. GRO Register of Births: MAR 1914 3a 2167 BANBURY - Alan L. Hodgkin, mmn = Wilson
  2. GRO Register of Deaths: DEC 1998 B43C 32 CAMBRIDGE - Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, DoB = 5 Feb 1914, aged 84
Honorary titles


Preceded by:
The Lord Blackett
President of the Royal Society
1970–1975
Succeeded by:
The Lord Todd
Preceded by:
The Lord Butler of Saffron Walden
Master of Trinity College, Cambridge
1978–1984
Succeeded by:
Sir Andrew Huxley
Preceded by:
The Lord Adrian
Chancellor of the University of Leicester
1971–1984
Succeeded by:
Sir George Porter


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