Record

Reference numberJHG
LevelFonds
TitleSir John Henry Gaddum Papers
Date1922-1965
DescriptionThe collection spans Gaddum's papers from first forays into science as a student through his last role as Director of the Institute of Animal Physiology in Babraham (1958). The papers contain working notes, lecture scripts, drafts of publications and correspondence with other leading figures in physiology, such as Ulf von Euler, Sir Henry Dale, AV Hill, Marthe Vogt, Otto Loewi and Sir Hans Krebs. Correspondence with scientists in other fields demonstrates the scope of Gaddum's interests, including exchanges with statician RA Fisher, HW Florey, WH Thorpe and JBS Haldane.

Several group photographs taken at conferences feature leading physiologists of this time. A set of photos chronicles a trip to Russia taken by a group of Royal Society Fellows in 1956.

Gaddum's laboratory notebooks, strategy reports and correspondence with other scientists worldwide during the 1930s-40s provide a good insight into the role of the scientist in wartime. The working papers and lab books contain much material relating to substance P, acetylcholine and techniques of bioassay.

Throughout his life Gaddum maintained interest in a variety of subjects, producing a popular textbook on pharmacology and reviewing the work of other researchers. This active life, which included chairing the Committee for Clinical Endocrinology for the Medical Research Council, sitting on numerous boards and peer review committees, is reflected in the papers.
LanguageEnglish
Extent17 notebooks and 64 files
ArrangementFiles in main subject divisions, provide reference numbers, file titles/subjects and chronological extent.
Finding aidsA short handlist lists files under main subject divisions, giving reference numbers, file/title subjects and chronological extent. Also 2 sheaf catalogues
Access statusOpen
Administrative historyBritish pharmacologist and physiologist who worked on the actions of drugs and pioneered methods of bioassay to test the pharmacological activity of substances.

Early life and education:
Gaddum was born on 31 March 1900 in Hale, Cheshire, the eldest of 6 children. Educated at Miss Wallace's day school in Bowdon, Cheshire, then Moorland House School, Heswall, Cheshire, and from 1913 at Rugby School. Encouraged to take up science by by FA Meyer who later became headmaster of Bedales. Won two leaving exhibitions - one general, one for mathematics. In 1919 went to Trinity College Cambridge on an entrance scholarship for mathematics, and read medicine. In 1922 became a medical student at University College Hospital, London.

Early career:
In 1925 Gaddum applied for and won a post at the Wellcome Research Laboratories under JW Trevan, where he wrote his first paper on the quantitative aspects of drug antagonism.
In 1927 he went to work for Sir Henry Dale at the National Institute for Medical Research in Hampstead for six years. Here he did some of his best research, including discovering of a new substance in the brain and helping to clarify the role of acetylcholine in neurotransmission. Becoming interested in drug action, he accepted the Chair of Pharmacology at the University of Cairo in 1934. In 1935 he was appointed Professor of Pharmacology at University College London, and in 1938 he took the Chair of Pharmacology at the College of the Pharmaceutical Society, London.

Wartime research:
After the war broke out, Gaddum worked at the Chemical Defence Research Station, Porton Down, where he was involved in research on gas warfare and produced advisory reports for offensive and defensive strategy.

Later life:
In 1942 Gaddum accepted the Chair of Materia Medica in the University of Edinburgh, where he built up an outstanding research department which attracted many scientists from abroad. Extra-mural activities became more time-consuming and in 1958 he was invited to become the Director of the Institute of Animal Physiology in Babraham, Cambridge by the Agricultural Research Council. He accepted the post and staffed the Institute so that it became one of the great international centres for research in physiology and pharmacology. A year before his death he was knighted and awarded an honorary LL.D Edinburgh. In 1929 he married Iris Mary Harmer, M.B., B.Chir., M.R.C.P., daughter of zoologist Sir Sidney Harmer, FRS, and Laura Russell.
Related materialWellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine; notes Ref. GC/110, correspondence and papers 1957-1964 Ref. GC/213, correspondence with Henry McIlwain 1943-1962 Ref. PP/MCI
Fellows associated with this archive
CodeNameDates
NA1826Gaddum; Sir; John Henry (1900 - 1965); Physiologist1900 - 1965
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