Hilda Margaret Bruce

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Hilda Bruce
Born(1903-04-05)5 April 1903
Died11 February 1974(1974-02-11) (aged 70)
ResidenceEngland
NationalityBritish
Alma materKing's College for Women
Known forDiscovering the Bruce effect
Scientific career
FieldsZoologist
InstitutionsNational Institute for Medical Research
Pharmaceutical Society

Hilda Margaret Bruce (5 April 1903 – 2 November 1974) was a British zoologist, best known for her discovery of the Bruce effect, a pheromonal behaviour observed in many rodent species.[1] Her work on the control of fertility earned her the Oliver Bird Medal.

Biography[edit]

Hilda Bruce was born on 5 April 1903. She was educated at St Leonards School.[2] In 1923, she began her tertiary studies at King's College for Women, where she received a B.Sc. in Household and Social Science, and another in Physiology.[2] In 1928, Bruce joined the National Institute for Medical Research at Mount Vernon, Hampstead.[3] Her early research was dedicated towards the understanding of Vitamin D; she also jointly published the first article describing the breeding characteristics of the golden hamster.[4] In 1933, Bruce was employed by the Pharmaceutical Society, where she continued her research on Vitamin D.[3][2] In 1941, she was appointed to set up the Cod Liver Oil (Poultry) Standardisation Laboratory. In 1944, she returned to the NIMR, where she formulated specialised diets for laboratory animals.[3][2]

From the early 1950s, Bruce turned her attentions towards sexual behaviour in rodents, particularly the Whitten effect.[3] In 1959, she published her discovery of what is now called the Bruce effect, the termination of pregnancy following exposure to the scent of an unfamiliar male.[5] Bruce retired from the NIMR in 1963, but continued part-time research, variously on nutrients, development and pheromones, at the Department of Investigative Medicine in Cambridge.[2] She continued work at the Department until 1973.[2] In her later years, Bruce largely used a wheelchair, having been afflicted with worsening rheumatoid arthritis since 1942.[2]

Bruce effect[edit]

Throughout the 1950s, Bruce studied sexual behaviour in laboratory mice, with a particular interest in oestrus synchronisation.[2] In one experiment, she housed newly mated pregnant females with male mice that were not the father of the carried embryo. As a result, the rate of miscarriages increased, these females subsequently returning to oestrus and mating with the new male.[5] No increased rate of miscarriages occurred when pregnant mice were paired with juvenile or castrated mice.[6]

Her colleague Alan Parkes, who had recruited her to the NIMR in 1944,[3] helped her to pursue the initial findings that eventually lead to this discovery.[7]

The National Institute for Medical Research[edit]

Following the isolation of pure vitamin D in 1931, Bruce worked in collaboration with Askew, Philpot and Webster in the Department of Biological Standards, determining the stability of the pure substance.[8] At this time, Bruce was also working with Dr Callow in the Department of Physiology, Pharmacology and Biochemistry, determining the healing effect of vitamin D in rats with rickets.[9]

Publications[edit]

  • Bourdillon, R. B.; Bruce, H. M. (1 January 1932). "The determination of vitamin D". Biochemical Journal. 26 (2): 506–521. doi:10.1042/bj0260506.
  • Bruce, H. M. (1934). "Interaction of vitamin D and dietary factors in the healing of rickets in rats". Biochemical Journal. 28 (2): 512–516. doi:10.1042/bj0280512. PMC 1253223.
  • Bruce, H. M.; Hindle, E. (July 1934). "The Golden Hamster, Cricetus (Mesocricetus) auratus Waterhouse. Notes on its Breeding and Growth". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 104 (2): 361–366. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1934.tb07757.x.
  • Bruce, Hilda M. (1959). "An Exteroceptive Block to Pregnancy in the Mouse". Nature. 184 (4680): 105. doi:10.1038/184105a0. PMID 13805128.
  • Bruce, H. M. (1965). "Effect of Castration on the Reproductive Pheromones of Male Mice". Reproduction. 10: 141–3. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.485.8060. doi:10.1530/jrf.0.0100141. PMID 14337805.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bracey, Ed (December 2011). "The sense of smell – A milestone to understanding the brain". Mill Hill Essays via NIMR History.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Parkes, Alan S. (1977). "H. M. Bruce 1903-1974". Reproduction. 49 (1): 1–4. doi:10.1530/jrf.0.04900NP-c. PMID 319228.
  3. ^ a b c d e MRC National Institute for Medical Research (2014). A Century of Science and Health. MRC National Institute for Medical Research. p. 208.
  4. ^ Hindle, H. M. Bruce and E. (2010). "The Golden Hamster, Cricetus (Mesocricetus) auratus Waterhouse. Notes on its Breeding and Growth". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 104 (2): 361–6. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1934.tb07757.x.
  5. ^ a b Bruce, Hilda M. (1959). "An Exteroceptive Block to Pregnancy in the Mouse". Nature. 184 (4680): 105. doi:10.1038/184105a0. PMID 13805128.
  6. ^ Bruce, H. M. (1965). "Effect of Castration on the Reproductive Pheromones of Male Mice". Reproduction. 10: 141–3. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.485.8060. doi:10.1530/jrf.0.0100141. PMID 14337805.
  7. ^ Polge, Christopher (2006). "Sir Alan Stirling Parkes 10 September 1900 — 17 July 1990". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 52: 263–283. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2006.0019. PMID 18543475.
  8. ^ Report of the Medical Research Council for the Year 1932-1933. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. 1934. p. 65.
  9. ^ Report of the Medical Research Council for the Year 1932-1933. London: His Majesty's Stationery Office. 1934. p. 53.