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Records of the MRC Elsie Widdowson Laboratory

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10293

Scope and Contents

Papers relating to the Dunn Nutritional Laboratory and its successor organisations, MRC Human Nutrition Research and MRC Elsie Widdowson Laboratory. The material relates to the establishment of the Dunn Nutrional Laboratory, chiefly correspondence and administrative papers of the first director and deputy director, together with reports and minutes of meetings documenting relations between the Dunn, various government agencies and other scientific institutions. Later material largely relates to the operation of the Dunn Ethical Committee, including submissions for research projects and minutes of meetings. There are also series of press cuttings, photographs, newsletters, Tea Club lectures, and a near complete run of publications and offprints generated by the Unit and its staff.


  • Creation: c. 1927 - 1990s

Conditions Governing Access

Part restricted. Access to the sub-series MS Add.10293/6/2, Ethical Committee submissions, 1975-1998, is restricted.

Biographical / Historical

The Medical Research Council (MRC) established the Dunn Nutritional Laboratory in 1927 to research human nutrition and the role of vitamins in human health. The laboratory was named after Sir William Dunn (1833-1912), who had left a substantial donation on his death, and was established with the support of the secretary of the MRC, Sir Walter Fletcher, and Sir Frederick Gowland-Hopkins, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge.

In 1998 the Dunn Nutritional Laboratory was restructured into two divisions – the MRC Dunn Nutritional Laboratory and the MRC Human Nutrition Research (HNR). After the division, the Dunn Nutritional Laboratory was under the directorship of Sir John Walker FRS and transferred to the newly constructed Wellcome Trust/MRC Building, shared with the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research. In 2009 the Dunn Laboratory was renamed the Mitochondrial Biology Unit.

MRC HNR was under the directorship of Professor Ann Prentice. In 2001, the unit moved from its original site at Downham's Lane (Milton Road) to a new building at the Peterhouse Technology Park on Fulbourn Road, named the Elsie Widdowson Laboratory. In 2016 the MRC HNR was formally renamed, in honour of the nutritionist Elsie May Widdowson (1906-2000), and was known as MRC EWL. The unit was dissolved in December 2018.


1.95 cubic metre(s) (47 archive boxes and 61 volumes or binders)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

On deposit from the Medical Research Council, UK Research and Innovation (Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon, SN2 1FL), June 2019.


Alison A. Paul (ed.), 'Dunn Nutrition Unit - the first 60 years' (MRC Dunn Nutrition Unit, Cambridge, 1987) Cambridge University Library (CUL), Cam.b.987.9
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom