Geoffrey Wingfield Harris

Geoffrey Wingfield Harris (1913 - 1971) was an English physiologist and fellow of the Royal Society, considered by many to be the father of neuroendocrinology. He published the ‘Neural Control of the Pituitary Gland’ in 1955 which predicted the subsequently discovered hormone ‘releasing factors’ acting on the hypothalamus. He was a demonstrator in Anatomy and then a lecturer in Physiology at Cambridge before working as a neuroendocrinologist at the Maudsley Hospital in London. Harris went to Oxford University in 1962 as Professor of Anatomy and a Fellow of Hertford College. He was an effective and popular teacher of anatomy, raising its profile, and contributing to the development of the new Physiological Sciences Final Honour School, which brought together for the first time, the five preclinical departments of anatomy, biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology and physiology. His teaching extended to include endocrinology as a special subject. In the same year he was appointed Honorary Director of the Medical Research Council’s Neuroendocrinology Research Unit in Oxford. Here he continued his scientific research: attempting to isolate the luteinizing hormone releasing factor, and studying the effect of gonadal hormones on the sexual differentiation of the brain. He also continued to practise clinical medicine at the Littlemore Hospital, where he was Honorary Consultant, investigating gonadal and pituitary hormones in psychiatric patients. In 1986, The Physiological Society instituted a triennial lecture in memory of the late Professor G. W. Harris.