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Alan Lloyd Hodgkin

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Title: Alan Lloyd Hodgkin  
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Subject: Andrew Huxley, Action potential, Edgar Adrian, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Howard Florey
Collection: 1914 Births, 1998 Deaths, Alumni of Trinity College, Cambridge, British Physiologists, Electrophysiologists, English Biophysicists, English Neuroscientists, English Nobel Laureates, Fellows of the Royal Society, Knights Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Masters of Trinity College, Cambridge, Members of the Order of Merit, Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine, People Associated with the University of Leicester, People Educated at Gresham's School, People from Banbury, Place of Birth Missing, Presidents of the Royal Society, Radar Pioneers, Recipients of the Copley Medal, Royal Medal Winners, Systems Biologists
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Alan Lloyd Hodgkin

Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin
Born (1914-02-05)5 February 1914
Banbury, Oxfordshire, England, UK
Died 20 December 1998(1998-12-20) (aged 84)
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, UK
Citizenship British
Nationality English
Fields Physiology and Biophysics
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge
Notable awards Royal Medal (1958)
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1963)
Copley Medal (1965)
Spouse Marion Rous
Children Sarah, Deborah, Jonathan, and Rachel

Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, OM, KBE, PRS[1] (5 February 1914 – 20 December 1998) was an English physiologist and biophysicist, who shared the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Andrew Huxley and John Eccles.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Achievements 3
  • Honours 4
  • Personal life 5
    • Death 5.1
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Hodgkin was born in Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.[3]


During the Second World War, he volunteered 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 AGLT airborne gun-laying system. Earlier, in March 1941, Hodgkin had flown on the test flight of a Bristol Blenheim fitted with the first airborne centimetric radar system. As the war ended in 1945, he joined the faculty of physiology department in Cambridge University. He was the Foulerton Professor of the Royal Society between 1951 and 1969. He served on the Royal Society Council from 1958 to 1960 and on the Medical Research Council from 1959 to1963. He was foreign secretary of the Physiological Society from 1961 to 1967. He was appointed the John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Biophysics at Cambridge University in 1970. He also held additional administrative posts such as Chancellor, University of Leicester, from 1971 to 1984, and Master, Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1978 to 1985.


With Andrew Fielding Huxley, Hodgkin worked on experimental measurements and developed an action potential theory representing one of the earliest applications of a technique of electrophysiology, known as the "voltage clamp". The second critical element of their research was the use of the giant axon of the veined squid (Loligo forbesii),[4] 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 using the techniques of the time. The experiments started at the University of Cambridge, beginning in 1935 with frog sciatic nerve, and soon after they continued their work using squid giant axons at the Marine Biological Association Laboratory in Plymouth. In 1939, reporting work done in Plymouth, Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley published a short paper in the journal Nature announcing their achievement of recording action potentials from inside a nerve fibre.[5] Research was interrupted by World War II but after resuming their experimental work in Plymouth, the pair published their theory in 1952 in a series of publications.[4][6][7][8][9]

With Huxley, he established the propagation mechanism of nerve impulse called "central nervous system. In addition Hodgkin and Huxley's findings led them to hypothesize the existence of ion channels on cell membranes, which were confirmed only decades later. Confirmation of ion channels came with the development of the patch clamp leading to a Nobel prize in 1991 for Erwin Neher and Bert Sakmann, and in 2003 for Roderick MacKinnon.[10]

Hodgkin was also the discoverer of cell membrane depolarisation sequence now known as the Hodgkin Cycle.[11]


Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, Andrew Fielding Huxley, and John Carew Eccles (for his research on synapses) were jointly awarded the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for their discoveries concerning the ionic mechanisms involved in excitation and inhibition in the peripheral and central portions of the nerve cell membrane".[12] Hodgkin was knighted (KBE) in 1972 and appointed to the Order of Merit in 1973. He was elected President of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom in 1966. From 1970 to 1975 he was President of the Royal Society. The Royal Society awarded him its Royal Medal in 1958 and Copley Medal in 1965. He was also elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Philosophical Society, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, Deutsche Akademie, and Indian National Science Academy. A portrait of Hodgkin by Michael Noakes hangs in Trinity College's collection.[13]

Personal life

Alan Hodgkin married Marion Rous in 1944, whom he met while at Rockefeller Institute in 1938. She was the daughter of an American pathologist, Francis Peyton Rous, who won the 1966 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. She became Children's Book Editor at Macmillan Publishing Company and a successful writer of children's literature, including Young Winter's Tales and Dead Indeed. They had three daughters, Sarah, Deborah, and Rachel, and a son Jonathan. Jonathan Hodgkin became a molecular biologist at Cambridge University. Deborah Hodgkin is also a successful psychologist.


Alan Hodgkin died in 1998 at Cambridge.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Huxley, S. A. (2000). "Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, O.M., K.B.E. 5 February 1914 -- 20 December 1998: Elected F.R.S. 1948". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 46 (0): 219–241.  
  2. ^ Benson, S. G. G., Crossley Evans, Martin, I Will Plant Me a Tree: an Illustrated History of Gresham's School (James & James, London, 2002) ISBN 0-907383-92-0
  3. ^ Protection Of Birds Measures Urged By Royal Society in The Times, Saturday, Mar 29, 1930; pg. 14; Issue 45474; col C
  4. ^ a b Hodgkin, AL; Huxley, AF; Katz, B (1952). "Loligo"Measurement of current-voltage relations in the membrane of the giant axon of (PDF). The Journal of Physiology 116 (4): 424–48.  
  5. ^ Hodgkin, A. L.; Huxley, A. F. (1939). "Action Potentials Recorded from Inside a Nerve Fibre". Nature 144 (3651): 710–711.  
  6. ^ Hodgkin, AL; Huxley, AF (1952). "Loligo"The dual effect of membrane potential on sodium conductance in the giant axon of . The Journal of Physiology 116 (4): 497–506.  
  7. ^ Hodgkin, AL; Huxley, AF (1952). "Loligo"The components of membrane conductance in the giant axon of . The Journal of Physiology 116 (4): 473–96.  
  8. ^ Hodgkin, AL; Huxley, AF (1952). "A quantitative description of membrane current and its application to conduction and excitation in nerve". The Journal of Physiology 117 (4): 500–44.  
  9. ^ Hodgkin, AL; Huxley, AF (1952). "Propagation of electrical signals along giant nerve fibers". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B 140 (899): 177–83.  
  10. ^ Schwiening, C. J. (2012). "A brief historical perspective: Hodgkin and Huxley". The Journal of Physiology 590 (11): 2571–2575.  
  11. ^ Noble, D. (2010). "Biophysics and systems biology". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 368 (1914): 1125–1139.  
  12. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1963". Nobel Media AB. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  13. ^ "Trinity College, University of Cambridge". BBC Your Paintings. 
  14. ^ Lamb, Trevor (1999). "Obituary: Alan Hodgkin (1914-98)". Nature 397 (6715): 112–112.  

External links

  • The Master of Trinity at Trinity College, Cambridge
  • Nobel biography of Hodgkin
  • BBC obituary
  • Speech at Nobel banquet, 1963
  • Action Potential Paper
  • Imperial War Museum Interview
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Lord Butler of Saffron Walden
Master of Trinity College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
Sir Andrew Huxley
Preceded by
The Lord Adrian
Chancellor of the University of Leicester
Succeeded by
Sir George Porter
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