John Gaddum

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Sir John Gaddum
John Gaddum (1900-1965).tif
Born John Henry Gaddum
(1900-03-31)31 March 1900
Hale, Cheshire
Died 30 June 1965(1965-06-30) (aged 65)
Cambridge, England
Nationality British
Fields Pharmacology
Institutions Cairo University
University College London
Porton Down
Alma mater Rugby School
Trinity College, Cambridge
Known for first scientist to postulate that 5-HT might have a role in mood regulation
Notable awards Fellow of the Royal Society[1]

Sir John Henry Gaddum FRS FRSE (31 March 1900 – 30 June 1965) was an English pharmacologist who discovered Substance P, a neuropeptide in 1931 along with Ulf von Euler.[1] He was a founder member of the British Pharmacological Society and first editor of the British Journal of Pharmacology.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

He was born in Hale (now part of Manchester) the son of silk merchant, Henry Edwin Gaddum and his wife Phyllis Mary Barratt.[3] He was educated at Moorland House School, Heswall, Cheshire; Rugby School; and Trinity College, Cambridge.[3]

He completed his BSc in Physiology at the University of Cambridge in 1922, and his MD at University College London in 1925.[3] His first role was to assist J. W, Trevan at the Wellcome Physiological Research Laboratories.[4]


From 1927-33, Gaddum worked under Henry Dale at the National Institute for Medical Research, and helped develop the classical laws of drug antagonism. He showed that sympathetic nerves release adrenaline. Together with Ulf von Euler, he established the release of acetylcholine in autonomic ganglia.[3]

From 1933-35, Gaddum was professor of pharmacology at the University of Cairo. Subsequent to this he took up a chair at University College London, from 1935–38 and University of London from 1938-42.[3] During the Second World War he advised the War Office on potential use of toxins and biological weapons. He was given the rank of Lt Colonel.[5]

Gaddum was professor of pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh from 1942-58.[3]

In 1943 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His proposers were James Pickering Kendall, James Couper Brash, Thomas J. Mackie and James Ritchie. He served as the Society's Vice President 1951-54. In 1945 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.[6]

He was director of the Institute of Animal Physiology (later Babraham Institute) from 1958-65.[3]

In the New Year Honours 1964 Gaddum was made appointed a Knight Bachelor.[7] and invested by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.[3][8]

In experiments with lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), Gaddum explained how it causes mental disturbances by blocking the stimulating effects of serotonin.[3] He was the first scientist to postulate that 5-HT might have a role in mood regulation.[9]

Edinburgh University awarded him an honorary doctorate (LLD) in 1964.

He died in Cambridge on 30 June 1965.[10]


  • "Gaddum's Pharmacology" (1948) considered a definitive work for decades.[3]

Military service[edit]

Gaddum served in the British Army from 1940–42, rising to Lieutenant Colonel.[3]

Personal life[edit]

In 1929, Gaddum married Iris Mary Harmer[3] in Royston, Hertfordshire. They had three daughters: Susan M. Gaddum (b.1930), Ann R. Gaddum (b.1932), and Phyllis L. Gaddum (b.1937).[11]


External links[edit]