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1936: Sir Henry Dale

Dale (MRC National Institute for Medical Research) won the 1936 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his findings about how nerves use chemicals to transmit messages to each other. When two nerves cells meet end-to-end, there is a gap between them called a synapse. Chemical transmitters, released from the end of one nerve, flow across this gap to the other nerve. This is how one nerve cell communicates with another, and is the basis of how nerve cells are connected in networks in the body.

Dale identified a particular transmitter called acetylcholine. He also invented ‘Dale’s Principle’, which stated that each nerve releases only one transmitter. Since then, however, some nerves have been shown to use more than one.