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Andrew Huxley

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Sir Andrew Fielding Huxley, Order of Merit (Commonwealth), FRS (born 22 November 1917, Hampstead, London [1]) is an English physiologist and biophysicist, who won the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work with Alan Lloyd Hodgkin 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 the existence of ion channels, which were isolated only decades later. Together with the Swiss physiologist Robert Stämpfli he evidenced the existence of saltatory conduction in myelinated nerve fibres.

Huxley was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London on 17 March 1955. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on 12 November 1974. Sir Andrew was then appointed to the Order of Merit on 11 November 1983.

FamilyEdit

Huxley is a son of the writer and editor Leonard Huxley by his second wife Rosalind Bruce, and hence half-brother of the writer Aldous Huxley and fellow biologist Julian Huxley and grandson of the biologist T. H. Huxley. In 1947 he married Jocelyn Richenda Gammell Pease (1925-2003), the daughter of the geneticist Michael Pease and his wife Helen Bowen Wedgwood, the daughter of Josiah Wedgwood. They had one son and five daughters:

  • Janet Rachel Huxley (born 20 April 1948)
  • Stewart Leonard Huxley (born 19 December 1949)
  • Camilla Rosalind Huxley (born 12 March 1952)
  • Eleanor Bruce Huxley (born 21 February 1959)
  • Henrietta Catherine Huxley (born 25 December 1960)
  • Clare Marjory Pease Huxley (born 4 November 1962)


Nobel PrizeEdit

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 the 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. The pair published their theory in 1952. In the paper, they describe one of the earliest computational models in biochemistry, that is the basis of most of the models used in Neurobiology during the following four decades. He continued to hold college and university posts in Cambridge until 1960, when he became head of the Department of Physiology at University College London. In 1969 he was appointed to a Royal Society Research Professorship which he holds in the Department of Physiology at University College London. He currently maintains his position as a fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, teaching in physiology, natural sciences and medicine.

Sir Andrew is arguably one of the greatest mathematical biologists of the 20th Century. From his experimental work with Hodgkin, he developed a set of differential equations that provided a mathematical explanation for nerve impulses -- the "action potential". This work provided the foundation for the all of the current work on voltage-sensitive membrane channels, which are responsible for the functioning of animal nervous systems. Quite separately, he developed the mathematical equations for the operation of myosin "cross-bridges" that generate the sliding forces between actin and myosin filaments, which cause the contraction of skeletal muscles. These equations presented an entirely new paradigm for understanding muscle contraction, which has been extended to provide our understanding of almost all of the movements produced by cells above the level of bacteria.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. GRO Register of Births: MAR 1918 1a 724 HAMPSTEAD - Andrew F. Huxley, mmn - Bruce
Honorary titles


Preceded by:
The Lord Todd
President of the Royal Society
1980–1985
Succeeded by:
Sir George Porter
Preceded by:
Sir Alan Hodgkin
Master of Trinity College, Cambridge
1984–1990
Succeeded by:
Sir Michael Atiyah

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