University Of Aberdeen Nobel Prizes

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University Of Aberdeen Nobel Prizes

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Frederick Soddy, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Aberdeen from 1914-1919, for his work on radioactivity and isotopes.

Nobel Prize in Medicine

Professor J J R Macleod, jointly with Frederick Banting, for the research which led to the development of insulin as a treatment for diabetes.

Nobel Prize in Physics

Sir George Paget Thomson, Professor of Natural Philosophy (Physics) at Aberdeen from 1922-1930, together with the American physicist C J Davisson “for their (independent) experimental discovery of the diffraction of electrons by crystals”.

Nobel Peace Prize

Lord Boyd Orr, Director of the Rowett Institute and Professor of Agriculture from 1942 to 1945, in recognition of his contribution to the worldwide fight against hunger.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Richard L M Synge, a biochemist with the Rowett Institute from 1948 to 1967, and Richard Synge for the invention of partition chromatography – a technique used in the separation mixtures of similar chemicals that revolutionised analytical chemistry.

John James Rickard Macleod was born on September 6, 1876 at Cluny, near Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland. He was the son of the Rev. Robert Macleod. When later the family moved to Aberdeen, Macleod went to the Grammar School there and later entered the Marischal College of the University of Aberdeen to study medicine.

In 1898 he took his medical degree with honours and was awarded the Anderson Travelling Fellowship, which enabled him to work for a year at the Institute for Physiology at the University of Leipzig.

In 1899 he was appointed Demonstrator of Physiology at the London Hospital Medical School under Professor Leonard Hill and in 1902 he was appointed Lecturer in Biochemistry at the same College. In that year he was awarded the McKinnon Research Studentship of the Royal Society, which he held until 1903, when he was appointed Professor of Physiology at the Western Reserve University at Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.

During his tenure of this post he was occupied by various war duties and acted, for part of the winter session of 1916, as Professor of Physiology at McGill University, Montreal.

In 1918 he was elected Professor of Physiology at the University of Toronto, Canada. Here he was Director of the Physiological Laboratory and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Medicine.

In 1928 he was appointed Regius Professor of Physiology at the University of Aberdeen, a post which he held, together with that of Consultant Physiologist to the Rowett Institute for Animal Nutrition, in spite of failing health, until his early death.

Macleod’s name will always be associated with his work on carbohydrate metabolism and especially with his collaboration with Frederick Banting and Charles Best in the discovery of insulin. For this work on the discovery of insulin, in 1921, Banting and Macleod were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for 1923.


The University of Aberdeen
King’s College
AB24 3FX

Tel: +44 (0)1224 272000


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