Royal Society Publishing

Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, O.M., K.B.E. 5 February 1914 — 20 December 1998

Sir Andrew Huxley

Elected F.R.S. 1948


Alan Hodgkin was one of the leading experimental biologists of the middle years of the twentieth century. He achieved an almost complete understanding of excitation and conduction in nerve fibres at the level possible with the techniques available at that time, and for this he received a share in the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1963. This work paved the way for subsequent unravelling by others of the molecular mechanisms, which followed from improvements in electronic techniques and the growth of molecular genetics. He also made major contributions to other aspects of the physiology of nerves and muscles, and especially to the mechanism of vision. During World War II he worked first in highaltitude physiology but for most of the war he was a member of the team that developed short-wave airborne radar, a development that was crucial to many of the successes of the Royal Air Force. His career was completed by holding two of the most distinguished positions open to an academic scientist in Britain, the presidency of The Royal Society (1970-75) and the Mastership of Trinity College, Cambridge (1978-84). He died in December 1998 after a long series of illnesses.

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