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100 years of hormones, and the man that gave us the word


To commemorate 100 years since the term ’hormone’ was first coined, the Society for Endocrinology’s flagship journal will be publishing a series of special, free, reviews that recognise the past 100 years of hormones, and look to the future of the expanding science of endocrinology.

Published in January’s issue of Journal of Endocrinology is a fascinating biography of Ernest Starling, the man who addressed the Royal College of Physicians in June 1905 and first used this new word, ’hormone’. The term was born from a previous conversation during a dinner with fellow academics and was derived from the Greek verb to ’excite’ or ’arouse’.

Starling and his colleague and brother-in-law William Bayliss discovered secretin, a hormone involved in digestion, and their experiments on pancreatic secretion actually contradicted (correctly) the nobel-winning research of Ivan Pavlov, most famous for his later experiments on conditional reflexes in dogs. It has been argued that Pavlov’s abrupt change of direction was in fact a direct result of Starling’s work!

Jane Shepley | alfa
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