John Newport Langley

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John Newport Langley
John Newport Langley2.jpg
Born (1852-11-02)2 November 1852
Newbury, UK
Died 5 November 1925(1925-11-05) (aged 73)
Cambridge, UK
Residence UK
Nationality British
Fields Physiologist
Institutions University of Cambridge
Alma mater University of Cambridge
Academic advisors Michael Foster
Notable students Walter Morley Fletcher
Charles Sherrington
Known for Autonomic nervous system
Notable awards Royal Medal (1892)

John Newport Langley (2 November 1852 – 5 November 1925) was a British physiologist. He spent his entire career at Cambridge University. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1883 and later its vice-president.

Langley is known as one of the fathers of the chemical receptor theory, and as the origin of the concept of "receptive substance".[1][2]

In 1901, he advanced research in neurotransmitters and chemical receptors, working with extracts from adrenal glands. These extracts elicited responses in tissues that were similar to those induced by nerve stimulation.[3]


  1. ^ Langley J.N. (1905). "On the reaction of cells and of nerve-endings to certain poisons, chiefly as regards the reaction of striated muscle to nicotine and to curari". J Physiol. 33 (4-5): 374–413. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.1905.sp001128. PMC 1465797Freely accessible. PMID 16992819. 
  2. ^ Maehle A.-H. (2004). ""Receptive Substances": John Newport Langley (1852–1925) and his Path to a Receptor Theory of Drug Action". Med Hist. 48 (2): 153–174. doi:10.1017/s0025727300000090. PMC 546337Freely accessible. PMID 15151102. 
  3. ^ Rubin, Ronald P. (December 2007). "A Brief History of Great Discoveries in Pharmacology: In Celebration of the Centennial Anniversary of the Founding of the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics". Pharmacological Reviews. 59 (4): 289–359. doi:10.1124/pr.107.70102. PMID 18160700.