Hodgkin, Alan Lloyd (1914-1998) was a British physiologist, a scientist who studies how different parts or organs of an organism work together to achieve a particular function. He and his colleague, the English physiologist Andrew Fielding Huxley, won the 1963 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their detailed description of the transmission of nerve impulses. They shared the prize with the Australian physiologist Sir John Carew Eccles, who conducted separate research on nerve transmission.
Hodgkin was born on Feb. 5, 1914, in Banbury, England. He studied natural sciences and then taught at Trinity College, part of Cambridge University. From 1937 to 1938, he worked at the Rockefeller Institute in New York City, where he met Marion Rous. They were married in 1944 and had four children.
In 1939, Hodgkin began to study nerve fibers of squid with his former student Andrew Fielding Huxley. During World War II (1939–1945), Hodgkin designed radar systems for aircraft. After the war, Hodgkin returned to Cambridge and continued his research with Huxley. They showed that the transmission of a nerve impulse is an electrical and chemical process controlled by the outer membrane of the nerve cell. A sudden change of electrical charge in the membrane, which affects the ability of certain ions (electrically charged atoms) to pass through it, makes up a nerve impulse. Hodgkin and Huxley first published their findings in 1951.
Hodgkin spent almost his entire career at Cambridge University, becoming a professor in 1952 and serving as master of Trinity College from 1978 to 1984. Hodgkin was elected a fellow (member) of the Royal Society, the leading scientific organization in the United Kingdom, in 1948. He served as president of the society from 1970 to 1975. Hodgkin was knighted in 1972. He died in Cambridge on Dec. 20, 1998, after a lengthy illness.