John H. Humphrey

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John Herbert Humphrey
John Herbert Humphrey.jpg
Born (1915-12-16)16 December 1915
Died 25 December 1987(1987-12-25) (aged 72)
Residence England
Nationality British
Alma mater Trinity College, Cambridge
Scientific career
Fields Bacteriology, Immunology
Institutions National Institute for Medical Research, University College Hospital

John Herbert Humphrey CBE FRS[1] FRCP (16 December 1915 – 25 December 1987) was a British bacteriologist and immunologist.[2]


He was educated at Winchester School, and Trinity College, Cambridge. He graduated from University College Hospital medical school in 1940.[3]


He was a houseman at the Hammersmith Hospital, and was the Jenner research student at the Lister Institute, 1941-42. He was assistant pathologist at the Central Middlesex Hospital from 1943–46, then joined the external staff of the Medical Research Council as a bacteriologist at University College Hospital in 1946.[3] Humphrey joined the staff of the National Institute for Medical Research in 1949, working in the Division of Biological Standards. With James Lightbown he established international standards for antibiotics and enzymes, and later developed a long-standing association with the WHO Expert Committee on Biological Standards. In 1957 he became head of the Institute's new Division of Immunology. From 1961-76 Humphrey was Deputy Director of NIMR, and became acting director in 1969. In 1975, Humphrey left NIMR to be Professor of Immunology at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith. He retired in 1981.[4][5]

In November 1956 Humphrey founded the British Society for Immunology alongside Robin Coombs, Bob White, and Avrion Mitchison. He was president of the International Union of Immunological Societies.

Awards and honours[edit]

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1963.[1] He delivered the 1981 Croonian Lecture to the Royal College of Physicians on The Value of Immunological Concepts in Medicine.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Humphrey was the son of the engineer H. A. Humphrey and his wife Mary Elizabeth (née Horniblow).

At Cambridge University he met his wife Janet, the daughter of Nobel Prize–winning physiologist Archibald Hill. They had five children, including Nicholas Humphrey, and brought up Humphrey's nephew and niece after the death of Humphrey's brother.


  1. ^ a b Askonas, B. A. (1990). "John Herbert Humphrey. 16 December 1915-25 December 1987". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 36: 274–300. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1990.0033. 
  2. ^ Natvig, J. B. (1988). "John H. Humphrey 1915-1987". Scandinavian Journal of Immunology. 27 (6): 617–619. PMID 3293191. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3083.1988.tb02391.x. 
  3. ^ a b "John Herbert Humphrey". Munk's Roll. Royal College of Physicians. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "John Herbert Humphrey". NIMR History. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  5. ^ MRC National Institute for Medical Research (2014). A Century of Science for Health. MRC National Institute for Medical Research. 
  6. ^ Briggs, Asa. A History of the Royal College of Physicians of London: Volume Four.