top of page

Sir Charles Scott Sherrington

This lecture concerns a very special Nobel laureate, Sir Charles Scott Sherrington (1857-1952), whose work on neurons, synapses and reflexes was of incredible importance on the fields of neuroanatomy and  neurophysiology. We will follow Sherrington's training in natural sciences and medicine in Cambridge, to his first research paper with Langley on the right hemisphere of a dog brain, and his early work at the Brown Institute of Advanced Physiological and Pathological Research, University of London. From there, we trace Sherrington's appointment to Holt Professor of Physiology at Liverpool University and his work on reflex arcs and the reciprocal innervation of muscles, and the 1906 publication of the highly influential The Integrative Action of the Nervous System. We journey with Sherrington to Oxford in 1913, on his appointment to the Waynflete Chair of Physiology, where he taught the likes of Wilder Penfield, a later pioneer of intra-operative brain mapping. During World War I, Sherrington's classes were reduced at one stage to nine students, and during this period, whilst working at a shell factory to support the war effort, he studied the effects of industrial fatigue. Sherrington was a pioneer in many other ways and was highly vocal in his support for the admission of female medical students to Oxford, an issue we will explore. We conclude the lecture with a consideration of Sherrington's later publications, including Man on His Nature, and his work as president of the Royal Society. This lecture is a celebration of the life of a remarkable man and the academic contributions of a remarkable scientist.

bottom of page