John Gray McKendrick1841–1926

Sound physiologist

McKendrick (or M’Kendrick as he preferred) occupied the chair of physiology at Glasgow University for 30 years (from 1876-1906) and did much to foster teaching and research there. His interests were in the nervous system and the special senses (particularly audition). He was born in Aberdeen and was raised under very poor circumstances, essentially teaching himself in his spare time. He studied medicine in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, from where he graduated. He visited Helmholtz in Germany and was much impressed by his research on hearing. The contacts continued when Helmholtz was in Glasgow visiting William Thomson (1824-1907, later Lord Kelvin). McKendrick wrote the first biography of Helmholtz after his death, and on the left he is shown in the title page of the book. He wrote many other books on physiology and histology and he delivered lectures to young audiences at The Royal Institution in London. He had published a book on The Physiology of the Senses (with his colleague, William Snodgrass) three years before the one on Helmholtz, and the image of the cochlear duct carrying his portrait on the right is taken from it. Albert Gray’s magnificent book on The Labyrinth of Animals (1907) containing numerous stereoscopic photographs, was dedicated to McKendrick.