Sir John Carew Eccles, AC FRS FRACP FRSNZ FAAS (January 27, 1903 – May 2, 1997) was an Australian neurophysiologist who won the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on the synapse. He shared the prize together with Andrew Fielding Huxley and Alan Lloyd Hodgkin.
Eccles was born in Melbourne, Australia. He attended Melbourne High School and graduated from Melbourne University in 1925. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study under Charles Scott Sherrington at Oxford University, where he received his Doctor of Philosophy in 1929.
In 1937 Eccles returned to Australia, where he worked on military research during World War II. After the war, he became a professor at the University of Otago in New Zealand. From 1952 to 1962 he worked as a professor at the Australian National University. He won the Australian of the Year Award in 1963, the same year he won the Nobel Prize.
In 1966 he moved to the United States to work at the Institute for Biomedical Research in Chicago. Unhappy with the working conditions there, he left to become a professor at the University at Buffalo from 1968 until he retired in 1975. After retirement, he moved to Switzerland and wrote on the mind-body problem. He died in 1997 in Locarno, Switzerland.
Eccles was a devout theist and a sometime Roman Catholic, and is regarded by many Christians as an exemplar of the successful melding of a life of science with one of faith. A biography states that, "although not always a practicing Catholic, Eccles was a theist and a spiritual person, and he believed 'that there is a Divine Providence operating over and above the materialistic happenings of biological evolution'..."
Apart from these seminal experiments, Eccles was key to a number of important developments in neuroscience. Until around 1949, Eccles believed that synaptic transmission was primarily electrical rather than chemical. Although he was wrong in this hypothesis, his arguments led himself and others to perform some of the experiments which proved chemical synaptic transmission. Bernard Katz and Eccles worked together on some of the experiments which elucidated the role of acetylcholine as a neurotransmitter.
Kenneth Brailey Cumberland, CBE FRSNZ DSc MA(Hons): Emeritus Professor of Geography, University of Auckland.(Obituary)
Jul 01, 2011; Kenneth Cumberland was born in Bradford, England, in 1913, spending holidays in the Yorkshire Dales. Following a secondary...