Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

On Friday 1 July 2022, the Department gathered to hear from Professor Dame Frances Ashcroft FRS about the pioneering women physiologists and anatomists throughout Oxford's history, followed by talks from Associate Professors Samira Lakhal-Littleton and Nicola Smart, and the unveiling of The Physiological Society's blue plaque commemorating one of DPAG's earliest pioneering women, Florence Buchanan.

L-R: Samira Lakhal-Littleton, Alastair Buchan, Nicola Smart, Frances Ashcroft, Dariel Burdass, and David Paterson

On Friday 1 July 2022, DPAG celebrated physiology in Oxford by commemorating the Department's early women pioneers. In the Blakemore Lecture Theatre, Professor Dame Frances Ashcroft FRS delivered “DPAG heroines: Pioneering women physiologists and anatomists at Oxford” with a special focus on one of DPAG’s earliest prominent women Dr Florence Buchanan.

Dr Buchanan was with the Department from 1894 - 1904 as Research Assistant to John Burdon-Sanderson. In 1904, she moved to the University Museum of Natural History, where she set up her own lab funded by grants from The Royal Society. She was especially interested in the frequency of the heart rate, and how it varied in different species, in hibernating animals and during exercise. Among her many contributions, she provided data for August Krogh, who wrote “Miss Buchanan has shown us the very great kindness to take some electrocardiograms on subjects starting work on a stationary tricycle”. One of her subjects was the famous Oxford respiratory physiologist CG Douglas, who apparently was ‘not at all heated’ by the exercise. Unfortunately, despite providing data, Dr Buchanan does not appear as an author on the paper, something that would certainly happen now. She is now widely renowned for her discoveries on the transmission of reflex impulses in mammals, birds and reptiles, and the neural control of the heartbeat during exercise. 

Dr Buchanan was the first woman to attend a meeting of The Physiological Society in 1896. In 1912, after she had been going to meetings of The Society for 16 years, John Scott Haldane proposed her for membership, making her the first woman proposed to become a member of The Physiological Society. She was later among the first 6 women admitted to The Society in July 1915.

Following Professor Ashcroft's talk, two more of DPAG's current successful women outlined their research. Associate Professor Samira Lakhal-Littleton delivered ““Iron Control- Systems Are Doin’ It for Themselves”, and Associate Professor Nicola Smart delivered “The embryonic blueprint for creating stable blood vessels”.

SamiraFranandNicola.jpg

L-R: Prof Samira Lakhal-Littleton, Prof Frances Ashcroft, and Prof Nicola Smart

The talks were followed by the unveiling of The Physiological Society Blue Plaque commemorating the scientific legacy of Dr Florence Buchanan, outside Sherrington building main entrance. Head of Department Professor David Paterson introduced proceedings, followed by an inspiring speech from Oxford's Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Alastair Buchan who outlined the importance of looking after our legacy of discovery science. The plaque was then unveiled by Professor Ashcroft to rapturous applause. The Physiological Society CEO Dariel Burdass was also in attendance. A video of the full unveiling event can be viewed below:

 

Newly unveiled Buchanan plaque

The unveiling was followed by The Sherrington Road Street Party for DPAG, Biochemistry and Kavli INsD.

Similar stories

Mootaz Salman recognised by premier global society for Neurochemists

Congratulations are in order for Dr Mootaz Salman, who has received the prestigious Young Scientist Lectureship Award by the International Society of Neurochemistry (ISN) in recognition for his eminent research achievements in cellular neuroscience.

Annual Report 2021 - 2022

The Department's Annual Report for the academic year 2021-22 has been released. The brochure showcases a selection of the year's highlights, including another top world ranking for Anatomy and Physiology and a strong contribution to the University of Oxford's success to Unit of Assessment 5 in the National Research Excellence framework (2021).

DPhil student wins senior College scholarship for research excellence

Congratulations are in order for Judy Sayers, DPhil student in the Riley Group, who has been awarded the University College senior G A Paul Scholarship for research excellence.

Sherrington Road reopening celebrated with Street Party

On Friday 1 July 2022, DPAG, Biochemistry and Kavli INsD came together for a street party to celebrate the completion of the landscaping project on Sherrington Road.

Fellowship awarded to Mootaz Salman could pave the way for early intervention in Parkinson’s

Congratulations are in order for Departmental Research Lecturer Dr Mootaz Salman who has been awarded a prestigious Early Career Fellowship funded by the Leverhulme Trust.