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George Nuttall - Bacteriologist

George Henry Falkiner Nuttall 1862 - 1937

George Henry Falkiner Nuttall was an American-British bacteriologist who contributed much to the knowledge of parasites and insects as carriers of disease. He was born in San Francisco on 5 July 1862. His father was Robert Kennedy Nuttall, a British-born doctor, and his mother was Magdalena Parrot of San Francisco.

George Nuttall moved to Europe with his parents and four siblings in 1865, and the family travelled around several countries, resulting in George being able to speak fluent French, German, Spanish and Italian. He later returned to the USA and trained to become a doctor at the University of California, Berkeley, qualifying in 1884. In 1886 he moved to Germany and studied immunology at the university at Gottingen. He was awarded a PhD in zoology in 1890. He returned to the USA two years later and took up the post of Associate of Hygiene at John Hopkins University, Baltimore. He continued his research there, and among other discoveries while there he identified the bacterium clostridium perfringens, which causes gas gangrene.

In 1899 he moved to Cambridge and a year later he was appointed University Lecturer in Bacteriology and Preventative Medicine at Cambridge University. He continued his research at Cambridge for the rest of his life. In 1901 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and in the same year he helped to establish the first Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. In 1906 he was elected the first Quick Professor of Biology, and two years later he was elected a Fellow of Magdalen College. In 1908 he founded the Journal Parasitology and founded and edited the Journal of Hygiene. He published many papers on the subject of parasitology and carried out much important research, including the bacteriology of diphtheria and the role of mosquitoes in the spread of malaria. In 1921 he helped to set up the Molteno Institute for Research in Parasitology at Cambridge.

He died on 16th December 1937. His mother had died in Tunbridge Wells in 1911, and her grave is in the cemetery. He is buried in the same family plot as her, along with the ashes of his father and eight other family members. The plot is marked by two large red granite ledgers. Unfortunately the bronze plaques originally attached to the ledgers which contained the inscriptions were stolen several years ago.

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