Skip to main content

Young, Frank George, 1908-1988 (biochemist and educationalist)



Frank George Young was born in London on 25 March 1908. He was educated at Alleyn's School, Dulwich 1916-1926 and then entered University College London. He graduated in chemistry and physics in 1929 and went on to postgraduate work in biochemistry and physiology at University College under J.C. Drummond, C. Lovatt Evans and A.V. Hill. After one year 1932-1933 as an Honorary Assistant in the Department of Physiology at University College, Young held research fellowships successively at the University of Aberdeen under J.J.R. Mcleod and the University of Toronto under C.H. Best, studying diabetes. He returned to University College in 1935 before in 1936 being appointed to the Scientific Staff of the Medical Research Council's National Institute for Medical Research, under the Directorship of Sir Henry Dale. In 1942 Young was appointed Professor of Biochemistry at St Thomas's Hospital Medical School, University of London and three years later was appointed to the Chair in Biochemistry at University College London. Young left London in 1949, when he was appointed Sir William Dunn Professor of Biochemistry at Cambridge, succeeding A.C. Chibnall. He retired from the Chair in 1975. On moving to Cambridge Young was made a Fellow of Trinity Hall but he resigned this Fellowship in 1964 when he became the first Master of Darwin College, the newly founded Cambridge postgraduate college. He stood down from the Mastership in 1976. Young devoted much of his time to service with national and international bodies. In the UK he was a member of the Medical Research Council 1950-1954, served on the Executive Council of the Ciba Foundation from 1954 to 1977 (appointed Chairman of the Council and Trustee in 1967) and was a co-founder of the British Nutrition Foundation in 1967 (serving as President 1970-1976). Young served on a number of government advisory bodies including the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy 1957-1980, and the Advisory Committee on the Irradiation of Food from 1967 (as Chairman). He was also a member of the Royal Commission on Medical Education 1965-1968. International commitments included membership of the Council of the International Union of Biochemistry 1961-1972 (Treasurer 1967-1972) and the Executive Board of the International Council of Scientific Unions 1970-1974 (Vice-President 1970-1972). Young was particularly active in diabetes research organisations. He was a Vice-President of the British Diabetic Association from 1948, President of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes 1965-1968, and President of the International Diabetes Federation 1970-1973. Young received numerous honours and awards, many from overseas, including the Banting Memorial Medal of the American Diabetes Association in 1950 and the Upjohn Award of the US Endocrine Society in 1963. He was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1949 (Croonian Lecturer 1962) and knighted in 1976. Young's principal research contribution was in the field of endocrinology, with particular reference to the study of diabetes. In autobiographical notes composed in September 1976 (A.6) Young described his work as follows: 'In 1937 he described a new method of inducing experimental diabetes in animals by the administration of an extract of the anterior pituitary gland for a short time, later showing that the persistence of the diabetic condition was caused by damage to the insulin-producing cells of the pancreatic islets and that the causative agent was anterior pituitary growth hormone. These investigations have been described as "some of the classical experiments in endocrinology"....With his collaborators he developed the view that diabetes mellitus can sometimes originate from an imbalance between the actions of insulin and growth hormone with respect to the utilization of glucose, a secondary result of this imbalance being damage to the pancreatic islets.' Young did little laboratory work himself after 1945 and effectively ceased active research when he came to Cambridge, although from the late 1950s he oversaw work on growth hormone, undertaken with a technician D.C. Gardiner. Young died on 20 September 1988.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:


Frank Young papers

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Young
Scope and Contents Section A, Biographical, includes a little autobiographical material including full curricula vitae. There is considerable material relating to Young's knighthood, chiefly letters of congratulation. The section also includes a little family material, some personal correspondence and material relating to Young's historical interests. Section B, University of Cambridge, is disappointing given Young's contributions to the Department of Biochemistry, the development of medicine in Cambridge and...
Dates: 1913-1988
Conditions Governing Access: Some items are restricted at the discretion of the Keeper of Manuscripts.