A talk with Sir Henry Dale.

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A talk with Sir Henry Dale. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). Source: Wellcome Collection.

About this work


Sir Henry Dale, pharmacologist, Nobel Prize for Medicine recipient, and chairman of the Wellcome Trust, is interviewed by Dr R. Proster Liston, chairman of the BMA Film Committee, in regard to some of the major achievements with which he has been associated in his long and distinguished career. 5 segments.


England, 1960.

Physical description

1 encoded moving image (15 min.) : sound, black and white



Copyright note

British Medical Association

Terms of use

Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales

Language note

In English

Creator/production credits

Produced by Film Surveys Ltd.


Segment 1 Dr Liston begins by asking Sir Henry's age; Sir Henry states that he will turn 85 in a few weeks' time. Sir Henry talks about his career, which began in 1904 when he gained his first experience in pharmacology at the Wellcome Foundation's laboratories, where he worked for ten years. He then went on to work with the Medical Research Council for the next 28 years. Since retiring he has been chairman of the Wellcome Trust, and he explains how the trustees there support research work in medicine. In 1936 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine, shared with Otto Loewi, a friend of his, for their discoveries relating to chemical transmission of nerve impulses. He explains the development of this research, from work carried out by earlier researchers, to his isolation of acetylcholine in 1914, a chemical transmitter of nerve impulses. Time start: 00:00:00:00 Time end: 00:05:17:05 Length: 00:05:17:05
Segment 2 Sir Henry explains the role of Otto Loewi, who in 1921 gave the first demonstration of transmission of nervous effects by liberation of chemical stimulators when he stimulated the two nerve supplies of the isolated heart of a frog. He then explains the practical consequences of this research, which is that nerve functions in general are now better understood, as well as disorders of these functions. He then discusses his work with Noradrenaline, a substance released by nerve cells and which acts as the principle transmitter of sympathetic nerve impulses. Dr Liston then asks about Sir Henry's work with ergot. The Medical Research Council had been asked to get an accurate clinical comparison between two well-known alkaloids of ergot, and he acted as consultant on these tests. The two alkaloids were found to have no effect on the uterus. Time start: 00:05:17:05 Time end: 00:10:05:03 Length: 00:04:47:27
Segment 3 Dr Liston asks about the liquid extract of ergot, and Sir Henry explains that when tested, this did have an effect on the uterus. After much research, the alkaloid Ergometrine was isolated and is now used worldwide in childbirth. This research helped with other discoveries, for example the discovery in the pituitary posterior lobe of the hormone oxytocin, and the isolation of the compound histamine, released during anaphylactic reactions. The interview finishes with Dr Liston stating that Sir Henry's work has led to important clinical results that have benefited both doctor and patient, and Sir Henry saying that he feels that he has had more than his share of good luck throughout his life. Time start: 00:10:05:03 Time end: 00:14:46:24 Length: 00:04:41:21


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