Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge

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On January 1, 2006 the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, (PDN), headed by W.A. Harris, was formed within the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Cambridge from the merger of the Departments of Anatomy and Physiology.


Anatomy was taught within the University since its foundation in about 1231. Initially, the teaching was of a theoretical nature based on readings of the classical texts of Galen, but the subject became established as an academic discipline in the early 16th century. In 1707 the first Professor of Anatomy, George Rolfe, was appointed. The tenth Professor of Anatomy, George Humphry, appointed in 1866, was a founder of the Journal of Anatomy and Physiology, and during the early tenure of his office, anatomy and physiology were taught together.

In 1870 Michael Foster was appointed as Praelector in Physiology. In 1878, the University supplied Foster with a purpose-built laboratory on the east side of Downing Street. Though Foster’s contributions to research were not enduring, he was an inspirational teacher and is the academic "great grandfather" to a large fraction of the world's current physiologists. In 1883 Foster became the first Professor of Physiology, Cambridge University.

Notable People[edit]

The Departments of Anatomy and Physiology (now fused to make PDN) and have been the home of many exceptional contributors to medical and physiological sciences and Nobel Prizes including Edgar Adrian (1932), Henry Dale (1936), Alan Hodgkin (1963), Andrew Huxley (1963), Roger Tsien (2008), and most recently Robert G. Edwards (2010).