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History of Physiology at King’s


Physiology has been taught at King’s since the founding of the College in July 1830. The first single Professorship in Physiology was created in 1836; its first holder was Robert Bentley Todd, a notable contributor not only to neuroscience but also to the development of medical education.

The Halliburton Chair in the Department of Physiology commemorates William Dobinson Halliburton (1860-1931), Professor of Physiology at King’s from 1890 to 1923. He was author of textbooks on physiology and pathology which became standard texts, going into many editions.

Robert John Stewart McDowall (1892-1990) was a Halliburton Professor of Physiology from 1923 to 1959. He is credited with advancing the teaching of the preclinical sciences. His early interests were concerned with the circulation and the McDowall reflex relates to a decrease in systemic blood pressure following vagotomy.  He maintained the Handbook of Physiology for 13 editions and was author of Clinical Physiology (a Symptom Analysis) in Relation to Modern Diagnosis and Treatment; A Text for Practitioners and Senior Students of Medicine. Before joining King’s he worked at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Leeds. He was also in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War.

In 1959, Professor McDowall presented to the College a silver replica of the King’s mascot, Reggie the Lion, ‘in appreciation of many happy years’.  It is still used at university ceremonial events such as degree ceremonies today.