Geoffrey Harris

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Geoffrey Wingfield Harris[1]] (1913-1971) has been called the "father" of neuroendocrinology. Working in Oxford, he showed, through a series of elegant experiments, that the anterior pituitary gland of mammals is regulated by factors that are secreted by hypothalamic neurons into the hypothalamo-hypophysial portal circulation. By contrast, the hormones of the posterior pituitary gland (oxytocin and vasopressin)are secreted into the systemic circulation directly from the nerve endings of hypothalamic neurons.[2][3][4]

"Harris was not the first to suggest that the adenohypophysis might be controlled by a humoral mechanism involving the hypophysial portal system, but it was the force of his intellect, personality and multifaceted research approach to the problem in the late 1940's and early ‘50’s which really established the neurovascular concept."
(Charles Sawyer In the First Geoffrey Harris Memorial Lecture of the International Society for Neuroendocrinology (1975)[5][6]

The Geoffrey Harris Memorial Lectureship, first awarded in 1974, was the highest honour of the International Society for Neuroendocrinology and continues to be recognized in this way by the International Neuroendocrine Federation since 2000, when the International Society was dissolved. It recognises major contributions by the lecturer to the advancement of knowledge in neuroendocrinology, and is given at the International Congresses of Neuroendocrinology which are organised every four years.

The "European Society of Endocrinology" also awards a Geoffrey Harris Prize [7]


  1. Geoffrey Harris
  2. (Harris GW, 1955; Neural Control of the Pituitary Gland. Monographs of the Physiological Society 3, London: Edward Arnold, 298pp)
  3. Harris’ papers are archived at here
  4. Obituary: Harris, Geoffrey Wingfield. Royal Society Biographical Memoirs (1972), 18 309-329, by Marthe Vogt.
  5. Sawyer CH. 1975. First Geoffrey Harris Memorial Lecture. Some recent development in brain-pituitary-ovarian physiology. Neuroendocrinology 17:97–124
  6. <Raisman G (1977) AN URGE TO EXPLAIN THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE: Geoffrey Harris and the Discovery of the Neural Control of the Pituitary Gland Ann Rev Neurosci 20:533-566
  7. Geoffrey Harris Prize The European Society of Endocrinology