Department of Physiology

Scope and Content

Student records 1920-1947.

Administrative / Biographical History

The subject of Physiology was taught at Glasgow University as early as the mid-eighteenth century as part of the class of Medicine. Formal recognition of the existence of the Theory of Medicine took place when Charles Badham was appointed to the Chair of Medicine in 1827  . Occupants of the Chair of Medicine had to be proficient not only in the Practice of Medicine but also in the theory of Medicine (Physiology). In 1832  Badham appointed Harry Rainy to take over the Theory of Medicine as a distinct Lectureship.

In 1839  the Chair on the Theory of Physic or Institutes of Medicine was founded with the appointment of Andrew Buchanan ( 1839-1876  ) as the first professor. Buchanan initially lectured on Physiology, Pathology, Therapeutics and Hygiene, and was given two assistants, one to help with the teaching of practical Physiology and Microscopy, and one to help with the teaching of Pathology. The modern era of Physiology at Glasgow University began with Buchanan's successor, John Gray McKendrick ( 1876-1906  ), who was trained as a Physiologist and devoted his attention to his academic duties on a full-time basis. McKendrick dispensed with the older term 'Physic' and used the new name of Physiology for the subject. McKendrick expanded the laboratory work of the course to include physiological chemistry and experimental physiology, and in 1877  the Muirhead Demonstratorship was founded. John McKendrick was also one of the nineteen present at the meeting in London in 1876  which set up the Physiological Society , proposing the rules of membership and those governing the Society's officers. Glasgow University professors and lecturers have been active in the Physiological Society ever since.

A full list of the University's professors from 1451  to 2001  can be found at  .

In 1893  the Chair was renamed the Chair of Physiology. The third holder of the Chair, Diarmid Noel Paton ( 1906-1928  ) used the title 'Institute of Physiology' to emphasise continuity with the 'Institutes of Medicine'. By 1906  Physiology had evolved into a well-staffed independent department, which included a Lecturer on Experimental Physiology, a Lecturer on Histology, and the Muirhead Demonstrator. In 1905  the Grieve Lectureship in Physiological Chemistry was founded with Edward Provan Cathcart as the first holder.

Three subjects that had previously been part of the Physiology Department, Physcology, Biochemistry and Pharmacology, would develop into independent departments. In 1908  a Lectureship in Pyschology was founded in the Physiology Department, which in time would develop into the Department of Physcology. In 1919  the Gardiner Chair of Physiological Chemistry was founded with the appointment of Edward Provan Cathcart ( 1919-1928  ). Although this would become the Department of Biochemistry in 1948  , it would keep close links with the Physiology Department. Similarly the founding of the Chair of Pharmacology in 1964  , its first professor being John Spencer Gillespie ( 1968-1992  ) would see the development of the Department of Pharmacology.

In 1965  the Buchanan Chair of Physiology was founded with Ian Alexander Boyd ( 1966-1987  ) as the first professor. In 1994  , the Physiology department was merged along with ten other former departments, Botany, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Genetics and Biotechnology, Microbiology, Pharmacology, Physical Education and Sports Science, Anatomy, Virology, and Zoology, to form the Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences. This in turn became the Faculty of Biomedical and Life Sciences in 2000  . Physiology is part of the Neuroscience and Biomedical Systems division of the Faculty.

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Additional Information

University of Glasgow

Subfonds level description compiled by Natalie Milne, archives assistant, January 2002  and John O'Brien, archives assistant, October 2002  .