- A dictionary of medical eponyms

Francis Arthur Bainbridge

Born  1874
Died  1921

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English physiologist, born July 29, 1874, Stockton-on-Tees, county of Cleveland; died October 27, 1921.

Biography of Francis Arthur Bainbridge

Francis Arthur Bainbridge's father was a pharmacist in Stockton-on-Tees. He won a scholarship to study at Leys School, Cambridge, and from there went to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took first class honours in the natural sciences tripos in 1897. He trained at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, becoming junior demonstrator of physiology in 1900, obtained his M.B. in 1901, and received his doctorate in Cambridge in 1904. He was then conferred doctor of sciences and became M.R.C.P. in London, and in 1905 became Gordon lecturer in pathology at Guy's Hospital. In 1907 he became assistant bacteriologist to the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine.

In 1905 he Married Hilda Winifred née Thornton Smith.

Bainbridge was appointed professor of physiology at Durham University in 1911, and in 1915 moved to the chair of physiology at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, University of London, holding that tenure for the remains of his life. He was elected FRS in 1919.

Bainbridge's first publication concerned the mechanism of lymph formation. His showed, in studies on the submaxillary gland and liver, that lymph flow resulted from local production of metabolites by cells with a consequent rise of osmotic tension in the tissue fluid which attracted fluid from blood vessels. He made an important contribution in distinguishing different types of paratyphoid bacilli.

Bainbridge and Arthur Philip Beddard (1867-1939) repeated Moritz Nussbaum's (1850-1915) experiments with ligation of the renal arteries of an animal in order to isolate the glomeruli of the kidneys from the circulation. They examined the mechanisms of urine secretion, and added important evidence supporting Arthur Robertson Cushny's (1866-1926) view of the glomeruli filters.

He worked with Sir Henry Hallett Dale (1875-1969) on the movement and innervation of the gall bladder. His most important contribution was to the physiology of exercise and his demonstration that an increase in pressure on the venous side of the heart resulted in an increase of heart rate due to the inhibition of vagal influences and the excitation of some accelerator mechanisms. This was the converse of Marey's law, which stated a rise in pressure in the ventricles caused a slowing of the heart (this is not quite so).

Bainbridge's most popular scientific publication was The Physiology of Muscular Exercise in 1919. Together with professor Menzies from Newcastle he wrote a textbook of physiology called Essentials of Physiology, a relatively short and concise account of physiology, much liked by medical students of the day. He was a man of small stature, not an impressive lecturer, and was dogged through his latter years by recurrent ill health.

We thank Patrick Jucker-Kupper, Switzerland, for information submitted.


  • On some cardiac reflexes.
    Journal of Physiology, London, 1914, 48: 322-340.
  • The influence of venous filling upon the rate of the heart.
    Journal of Physiology, Cambridge, 1915, 50: 65-84.
  • Essentials of physiology. With Menzies. London, 1914.
  • The physiology of muscular exercise. 1919. Biographical:
  • Who Was Who 1916-1928. London, 1929.
  • Isidor Fischer, publisher:
    Biographisches Lexikon der hervorragenden Ärzte der letzten fünfzig Jahre.
    Berlin – Wien, Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1932.
  • Barry G. Firkin and Judith A. Whitworth:
    Dictionary of Medical Eponyms.
    The Parthenon Publishing Group. 1989. New edition in 2002.

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