AE Cardiff Hub congratulates Sir Arnold Burgen MAE FRS on his 100th birthday

AE Cardiff Hub congratulates Sir Arnold Burgen MAE FRS on his 100th birthday

Sir Arnold, the Founding President of Academia Europaea (AE), celebrated his 100th birthday on Sunday 20th March 2022.

In 1988, Sir Arnold founded AE. At the Foundation Meeting in Cambridge, he was elected President and served in this capacity for 6 years. Twenty years later, at the Academy’s Annual Conference at the University of Liverpool hosted by Ole Petersen, Sir Arnold was created Praesidis Perpetui Honoris Causa (Honorary Life President).

Sir Arnold graduated in Medicine from the University of London in 1945 and worked in London for a couple of years before being appointed Professor of Physiology at McGill University in Montreal in 1949. He held this Chair until 1962, when he was elected Sheild Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Cambridge. In 1971, he became Director of the Medical Research Council’s National Institute for Medical Research at Mill Hill, a post he held until 1982. Thereafter, he was Master of Darwin College in Cambridge from 1982 to 1989.

Sir Arnold was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1964, Member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in 1984 and Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences in 1987. He was Vice-President and Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society 1980 – 1986.

Ole Petersen CBE FRS, Vice-President of AE and Director of the Cardiff AE Hub said:

“I first met Sir Arnold in Philadelphia in 1968, at an international symposium on Exocrine Glands, which he chaired at the University of Pennsylvania. I was still an undergraduate medical student (in Copenhagen) at that time, but nevertheless gave my first invited lecture at this symposium. I had been inspired to work in the field of exocrine gland physiology by Arnold’s pioneering work on salivary glands and, in particular, by his magnificent monograph written for the Physiological Society (1961) (see figure). Later, Arnold invited me to work in his department at the University of Cambridge and I spent a sabbatical research year there in 1971/72. It was a great honour for me when Arnold in 1988 invited me to become one of the 100 inaugural AE Foundation Members. In the slide I showed at the Royal Society, when introducing Arnold’s lecture at the celebration of AE’s 30th anniversary in 2018 (see figure), I summarized the connection between Arnold’s early work and my later studies. Arnold’s discovery of the phenomenon that salivary glands lose potassium when stimulated to secrete (1956) turned out to be the key to understanding the molecular mechanism by which all exocrine glands are activated to secrete.  AE owes its existence to Arnold and we must all be eternally grateful for his wonderful initiative. On behalf of the Cardiff AE Hub, I congratulate Arnold most warmly on his 100th birthday.”  

  • Left: The key figure from Sir Arnold Burgen’s famous article in the Journal of Physiology (1956) showing that potassium ions are lost from the salivary gland cells to both the saliva and the blood flowing through he gland, when it is stimulated to secrete.
  • Top right: The first recording of the tiny pico-ampere (pA) potassium ion current that flows through a single potassium channel molecule in a salivary gland cell membrane, when the channel is opened by a rise in the intracellular calcium ion concentration.
  • Lower right: front covers of the monographs of the Physiological Society dealing with exocrine gland physiology written by Arnold Burgen (1961) and Ole Petersen (1980), respectively.

18th March 2022. For further information please contact

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