Henry Dale

Henry Dale

English pharmacologist and physiologist, awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1936 (together with O. Löwy) for the discovery of the role of acetylcholine in the chemical transmission of nerve impulses
Date of Birth: 09.06.1875
Country: Great Britain

  1. Biography of Henry Hallett Dale
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Career
  4. Scientific Contributions
  5. Achievements and Recognition
  6. In 1932, he was knighted for his contributions to science.
  7. Conclusion

Biography of Henry Hallett Dale

Early Life and Education

Henry Hallett Dale was an English pharmacologist and physiologist, born on June 9, 1875. He attended Trinity College, Cambridge University, and earned his medical degree at St. Bartholomew's Hospital.


From 1904 to 1914, Dale worked as a pharmacologist at the psycho-physiological laboratory of Wellcome Chemical Works. In 1914, he was appointed as the Director of the Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology at the Medical Research Council. In 1920, he became the head of the National Institute for Medical Research in Hampstead. From 1942 to 1946, he led the Davy-Faraday Laboratory at the Royal Institution. Simultaneously, from 1939 to 1959, he held the position of Professor of Physiology at the University of London.

Scientific Contributions

Dale's early scientific work focused on the chemical composition of ergot, a fungus that parasitizes rye and other cereal crops. In 1906, he and his colleagues successfully isolated a biologically active alkaloid from ergot, which they named ergotoxin. In 1910, Dale identified histamine from ergot and described its pharmacological properties, particularly its role in the development of shock reactions, including anaphylaxis.

Dale is most renowned for his studies on the mechanism of nerve impulse transmission. In 1930, he provided evidence for the involvement of acetylcholine as a mediator in the transmission of nerve impulses from the vagus nerve endings in the stomach, sympathetic nerve endings innervating sweat glands, and more. Dale introduced the classification of peripheral nerves into cholinergic and adrenergic based on the chemical nature of the mediator.

Achievements and Recognition

Dale became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1914 and served as its Secretary from 1925 to 1935. He was later elected as the President of the Royal Society from 1940 to 1945. During World War II, he served as a member of the Advisory Committee on Atomic Energy. In 1936, Dale was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries regarding the chemical transmission of nerve impulses.

In 1932, he was knighted for his contributions to science.


Henry Hallett Dale was a prominent English pharmacologist and physiologist whose research significantly advanced the understanding of the chemical transmission of nerve impulses. His work on ergot and histamine, as well as his classification of peripheral nerves, had a profound impact on the fields of pharmacology and physiology. Dale's contributions were recognized with numerous honors and, in 1936, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.