Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
Alan Lloyd Hodgkin
Born: 5 February 1914, Banbury, United Kingdom
Died: 20 December 1998, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries concerning the ionic mechanisms involved in excitation and inhibition in the peripheral and central portions of the nerve cell membrane."
Prize share: 1/3
The nervous system in people and animals consists of many different cells. In cells, signals are conveyed by small electrical currents and by chemical substances. By measuring changes in electrical charges in a very large nerve fiber from a species of octopus, Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley were able to show how nerve impulses are exchanged between cells. In 1952 they could demonstrate that a fundamental mechanism involves the passage of sodium and potassium ions in opposite directions in and out through the cell wall, which gives rise to electrical charges.