John Eccles, the greatest Australian Noble Prized Neurophysiologist.

John Eccles, the greatest Australian Noble Prized Neurophysiologist.

John Carew Eccles was born on January 27, 1903 in Melbourne Australia. He gained much of his early training by his father, William James Eccles, His father, William James Eccles  and his mother, the Nee Mary Crew were a teacher.  John Carew  graduated from the  Melbourne  University in Medicine with the first class honors in 1925, and as Victorian Rhodes  Scholar for 1925, joined Magdalena College, Oxford, as an undergraduate a in order to study  under Sir Charles Sherrington.

In 1927, at Exeter College, Oxford he commenced to research with Sherrington’s colleagues. The latter from 1928 to 1931 he became the research assistant to Sherrington, there being eight papers published collectively and he also collaborated with a Ranger grain on two projects.  John Eccles were awarded an Oxford D. Phil. Degree in 1929 for a thesis on Excitation and inhabitation. Latter on Oxford appointments were to a Stains Medical Fellowship at Exeter College in 1932, a tutorial fellowship of Magdalena College and University Demonetarization in 1934. During the Oxford Period he research largely on synaptic transmission both in the central nervous system and peripherally in sympathetic ganglia, smooth and cardiac muscle.   It was the tenure of controversy between the exponents of the rival chemical and electrical theories of synaptic transmission Eccles in particular resisting many aspects of the chemical transmitter story that was being developed effectively by Dale and his colleagues.

After studying the synapses in the peripheral nervous system, Eccles and Colleagues used the stretch reflex as a model. This reflex is consists of only two neurons” a sensory neurons and the motor neuron’. The sensory neuron synapses onto the motor neuron in the spinal card, When Eccles passed the current into the sensory neuron in the quadriceps, the motor neuron innervating the quadriceps produce a small Excitatory Postsynaptic Potential (ESPSP0. When Eccles passed the same current  through the hamstring, the opposing muscle to the quadriceps, he saw inhibitory postsynaptic potential (IPSP) in the quadriceps motor neuron, the sum of several EPSPs from multiple neurons snapping onto the motor neuron could cause the motor neuron to fire, thus contracting the quadriceps. On the other hand IPSPs could subtract from this sum of ESPSPs, preventing the motor neuron from the firing. Apart from these experiments, Eccles was a key to a number of important developments in neuroscience. Until around 1949, Eccles also believed that synaptic transmission was primarily electrical rather that chemical. Although he was wrong in his hypothesis, his arguments led him and others to perform some of the experiments which proved chemical synaptic transmission. Bernard Katz and Eccles worked together on some of the experiments which played the role of acetylcholine as a neurotransmitter. John Eccles Was awarded with the “Noble Prize” in 1950 due to his great research with his colleagues.

John Eccles were appointed a Knight Bachelor in 1958 in recognition of service to Physiological Research. In 1963, he won the award “Australian of the Year”, the same year he won the Noble Prize individually. He became an honorary member of the American Philosophy Society in 1964 and in 1966 he moved to the United States to work at the “Institute for Biochemical Research” in Chicago.  He became the Professor at the University at Buffalo in 1968 and stayed there until he retired in 1975. Latter on he moved to Switzerland and wrote about the mind – body problem. In 1990 he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in recognition of service to science, particularly in the field of neurophysiology. He died On May 22, 1997 at the age of 94.

 

 

 

 


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