Charles Scott Sherrington

Photo from the Nobel foundation archive

Date of birth: 27 November, 1857. London, United Kingdom.

Date of death: 4 March, 1952. Eastbourne, United Kingdom.

Nobel Prize awardee in Physiology or Medicine 1932.

Prize motivation: “for their discoveries regarding the functions of neurons.”


Charles S. Sherrington was born in 1857, at Islington, a district in the city of London. In 1876, he began his medical studies at St. Thomas’s Hospital. Later, in 1879 he enrolled in physiology in the University of Cambridge, where he was mentored by Michael Foster. In 1883-84 he became a demonstrator of Anatomy and Histology, at Cambridge and St. Thomas Hospital, respectively.
By 1885, he concluded his studies and received his M.R.C.S, First Class in the Natural Sciences Tripos and his M.B degree at Cambridge. In this same year he travelled to Spain and Venice to study an outbreak of cholera and specialized in bacteriology in Berlin.
In 1887, he was named professor and superintendent of the Brown Institute for Advanced Physiological and Pathological Research in London. By 1895, he became professor of Physiology at the University of Liverpool, where he focused on the connection between the brain and spinal cord.
In 1893, he was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of London, where he would be the president during the period between 1920-1925. He obtained the professorship of physiology at the University of Oxford, in 1913.
He held honorary doctorates in a long list of universities around the world.
Sherrington was married to Ethel Mary, they had no children.


After the conference held in London in 1881, he was introduced to neurological work, the field, that Sherrington would be devoted to for the rest of his career.
In the 1890’s Charles S. Sherrington demonstrated how the muscular contractions are followed by relaxation, and how reflexes are an important and complicated response in the processing of nerve impulses by the brain and spinal cord, that make muscles and other organs work. This would be one of the most important cues to unravel the connection between the brain, the spinal cord and the rest of the body.
He also contributed largely, in the knowledge of the localization of the functions in the cerebral cortex.

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