Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Sir Henry Hallet Dale: English pharmacologist and physiologist

Henry Hallet Dale (9 June 1875 – 23 July 1968) received the Nobel prize in physiology or medicine in 1936 with Otto Loewi for their research which proved chemical synaptic transmission in the peripheral nervous system. Sir Henry Hallet Dale can undisputedly be accoladed as one of the greatest British pharmacologists of the twentieth century. His work was pivotal in laying down the principles of chemical neurotransmission.

Henry Dale was born in 1875, and he died in 1968. His career in physiology thus spanned more than seven decades and epitomises many of the transitions that the subject went through, between the end of the nineteenth and the middle of the twentieth century.

Henry Dale was born in London and attended the Leys School in Cambridge before completing his undergraduate course in natural sciences at Trinity College. He worked under John Langley as a Coutts-Trotter student from 1889 to 1900 before completing his medical degree at Saint Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1903.

After Cambridge and medical qualification at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, Dale was fortunate to be awarded a very rare postgraduate scholarship, the George Henry Lewes Studentship in Physiology. After consultation with Michael Foster, Dale elected to hold the George Henry Lewes Studentship in the Physiology Department of University College London.

On University College London Ernest H. Starling’s recommendation, Dale was offered a position as a pharmacologist on the staff of Wellcome Physiological Research Laboratories.

At the suggestion of Henry Wellcome, Dale’s initial research was on the physiological effects of the fungus ergot, in which he discovered that extracts reversed the effect of adrenaline and the action of sympathetic nerves. By 1910 his work on noradrenaline established that it had a stronger stimulating and weaker inhibitory activity than adrenaline.

By 1936 Dale and co-workers had confirmed that neurotransmitters were secreted at all peripheral synapses.

In 1914, Dale became a member of the scientific staff of the Medical Research Committee, which 6 years later became the Medical Research Council. He was appointed director of the Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology of the National Institute for Medical Research in 1928 and retired in 1942.
Sir Henry Hallet Dale: English pharmacologist and physiologist

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