Hodgkin, Sir Alan Lloyd

Hodgkin, Sir Alan Lloyd

Hodgkin, Sir Alan Lloyd, 1914-98, English biophysicist. For their work in analyzing the electrical and chemical events in nerve-cell discharge, he and Andrew Huxley shared with Sir John Eccles the 1963 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. He was a research professor of the Royal Society (1952-69) and professor of biophysics at Cambridge (1970-81).

Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin, OM, KBE, FRS (5 February 1914, Banbury, Oxfordshire, England – 20 December 1998 Cambridge) was a British physiologist and biophysicist, who won the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Early life

Hodgkin was educated at The Downs School (Malvern), Gresham's School, Holt, and Trinity College, Cambridge.


During the Second World War, he volunteered to work 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 airborne gun-laying system.

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 so-called giant axon of Atlantic squid (Loligo pealei), 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 by the techniques of the time. The experiments took place at the University of Cambridge beginning in 1935 with frog sciatic nerve and continuing into the 1940s, after interruption by World War II. Hodgkin and Huxley published their theory in 1952.

In 1963, with Huxley, he won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on the basis of nerve "action potentials," the electrical impulses which enable the activity of an organism to be coordinated by a central nervous system. Hodgkin and Huxley shared the prize that year with John Carew Eccles, who was cited for his research on synapses. Hodgkin and Huxley's findings led them to hypothesize ion channels, which were confirmed only decades later. Confirmation of ion channels came with the development of the patch clamp, which led to a Nobel prize in 1991 for Erwin Neher and Bert Sakmann.

From 1978 to 1984, Hodgkin was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.


Hodgkin was knighted in 1972 and appointed to the Order of Merit in 1973. From 1970 to 1975 he was President of the Royal Society.

See also


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