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Sir Henry Dale.

Dale, Henry H. 1875-1968.


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About this work


Very similar to his interview with Stephen Black, Sir Henry Dale discusses his accidental "discovery" of the adrenalin-reversal effects of ergot in 1904-05, and his part in the establishment of a biological standard for insulin production in Britain in 1922. He describes the adrenaline reversal effects of ergot and the standardization of insulin. The reversal of the normal pressor action caused Dale to condemn the adrenaline. The recurrence the following week of the same sequence of events, with the same unexpected result, caused Dale to question the effects of the ergot rather than the purity of the adrenaline. This observation led Dale on to his detailed study of ergot (Dale, 1906). The second section relates to the time when Dale was Director of the National Institute for Medical Research. He was sent to Toronto by the Medical Research Council to investigate the claims being made for the therapeutic benefits of the newly discovered insulin. Dale returned with a sample of insulin that was to be used as the standard British production. In the interview, Sir Henry recalls an emotional appeal made to him by an eminent churchman, to use the insulin to save his only child from dying of diabetes, and his unhappy task of refusing the appeal, so that the standard remained intact to accelerate production of insulin in Britain. He conveys the emotions that arose when the child, a girl, died shortly after he declined to provide the drug.


[Place of publication not identified] : BBC TV, 1960.

Physical description

1 DVD (10 min.) : 1 videocassette (DIGIBETA) (10 min.) : sound, black and white. sound, black and white.


See D. Gordon and E. M. Tansey, "Sir Henry Dale: a filmed interview", Journal of Physiology 1986, p.382.

Creator/production credits

Phillip Daly



  • English

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