John Herbert Humphrey FRS (1916-1987)

John Humphrey was a highly respected and powerful influence on immunology in the UK and internationally. He was born in West Byfleet and educated at Winchester College then Trinity College, Cambridge where he gained a BA in natural sciences in 1937. At University College Hospital (UCH) he qualified in medicine in 1940 and met his future wife Janet, daughter of Archibald V. Hill, professor of physiology at UCL.While still a medical student, Humphrey did research with Charles Harington who was then Professor of Chemical Pathology at UCH. He worked as a house physician, pathologist then bacteriologist in London, before joining the Division of Biological Standards at NIMR in 1949. 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 new Division of Immunology and encouraged the development of immunology both within and outside NIMR. From 1961-76 Humphrey was Deputy Director of NIMR, and became acting director when Sir Peter Medawar had his stroke in 1969. In 1975, Humphrey left NIMR to be Professor of Immunology at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith. He retired in 1981. Humphrey co-founded the British Society for Immunology as a splinter group from the Pathological Society, and was president of the International Union of Immunological Societies. He was also politically active, for example as a founder member of the Medical Association for the Prevention of War.

John Humphrey
John Humphrey

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