Dale, Sir Henry Hallett (1875-1968)

--- knight, physiologist, pharmacologist, physician ---

Sir Henry Hallett Dale Henry Hallett Dale was born the son of Charles James Dale, businessman, and Frances Ann Hallett, in London in 1875. He was educated at Tollington Park College in London and then subsequently at Leys School in Cambridge. He later gained a First in the Natural Sciences Tripos at Trinity College Cambridge, in 1898. In 1900 he began clinical training at St Bartholemew's Hospital, gaining his MD in 1909. In 1904 he married Ellen Harriet Hallett and they had three children. He studied at the Wellcome Physiological Research Laboratory in 1904, looking at chemical phase transmissions of nerve fibre endings to responsive cells, as well as the reaction of histamine in animals.

In 1914 he became a member of the Medical Research Committee (named Council after 1920), and from 1928 to 1942, he was Director of the Council and that of Biochemistry and Pharmacology at the National Institute for Medical Research. His researches investigated into adrenaline reversal, which became the basis for using phentolamine in the diagnosis of pheochromocytoma. His work on histamine, which he carried out with P P Laidlaw (later Sir) in 1911, highlighted the effects of poisoning and anaphylactic shock. He became a spokesman for the men of science and helped standardize drugs and anti-toxins; he also developed the terms cholinergic and adrenergic.

In 1914 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society (RS) and was a Secretary of the RS from 1925 to 1935. In 1942 he became Director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain (RI) and in the same year he was Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the War Cabinet; he held these positions until 1946 and 1947 respectively. In 1947 he was President of the British Association, and from 1948 to 1950, he was President of the Royal Society of Medicine. From 1950 to 1955 he was President of the British Council. He gained many medals for his work such as the RS Copley medal in 1937, and in 1936 he won the Nobel Prize with Otto Loewi for their work on the chemical transmission of nerve endings. In 1932 he was knighted, and in 1943 he was made a Knight of the Grand Cross of the British Empire.

The Society for Endocrinology set up an annual Dale medal from 1959 and the RS set up the Dale professorship from 1961. He published many papers in journals such as the Journal of Physiology, and he also published works such as Adventures in Physiology with Excursions into Auto Pharmacology (Pergamon Press, London, 1953) and An Autumn Gleaning (Pergamon Press, London, 1954). He died in 1968.