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Sir Andrew Huxley

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Sir Andrew Huxley

  • Birth 22 Nov 1917 Hampstead, London Borough of Camden, Greater London, England
  • Death 30 May 2012 Grantchester, South Cambridgeshire District, Cambridgeshire, England
  • Burial Cambridge, City of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
  • Memorial ID 91148052

Nobel Prize Winner in Medicine. A physiologist, he was honoured in 1963 for elucidating the chemical and mathematical processes involved in nerve impulse conduction. Born to a family distinguished in both the literary and scientific worlds (his older half brothers included biologist Sir Julian Huxley and "Brave New World" author Aldous Huxley), he was exposed to advanced learning from early childhood and was educated at the University College School and at Westminster before earning a scholarship to Trinity College Cambridge where he studied biology, physics, and physiology. Upon graduation he partnered with Sir Alan Hodgkin in a series of experiments which involved passing a wire down the long axis of a large neuron taken from a giant Atlantic squid and measuring electrical voltages along the nerve membrane. The two men published their observations in a small article in the journal "Nature" but soon found their work interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. During the conflict Sir Andrew performed anti-aircraft and naval gunnery research then in 1946 resumed his neurophysiology studies. Though it was long known that potassium ions (K+) could pass thru a neural membrane it was felt that sodium ions (Na+) could not; Sir Alan and Sir Andrew were able to demonstrate that during the excitation or rising phase of a nerve impulse Na+ ions diffuse into a cell while in the falling phase K+ ions pass out and were to propose the Hodgkin-Huxley Model, a series of differential equations that explain and quantify how the action potentials of neurons are initiated and propogated. Finishing the work that was to lead to the Nobel Prize around 1952 Sir Andrew maintained his professorship at Cambridge, turned to the subject of muscle contraction physiology, and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1955. From 1960 thru 1969 he held a faculty position at University College London and in 1963 received the Nobel Prize along with Sir Alan and Sir John Eccles, an Australian who had independently studied similar subject matter. He was to lecture at major institutions on both sides of The Pond, occasionally drawing fire for publically conceding that Darwin's Theory does indeed have holes and that some things such as consciousness cannot be explained by evolution. Knighted in 1974 he received the rarely bestowed Order of Merit (OM) in 1983 and from 1980 thru 1985 was President of the Royal Society, in 1983 upholding, in the face of numerous letters of protest, the group's election of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In 1984 he was to succeed Sir Alan as Master of Trinity College Cambridge, a position he held until his 1990 age mandated retirement. Sir Andrew lived out his days in Cambridgeshire and continued teaching at Trinity College until his death.

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 1 Jun 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 91148052
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Sir Andrew Huxley (22 Nov 1917–30 May 2012), Find A Grave Memorial no. 91148052, citing Trinity College, Cambridge, City of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .