John Eccles moves to Exeter College having been appointed a Junior Research Fellow (1927-1932). From 1932 to 1934, he is a Staines Medical Fellow. In 1927, he joins R.S. Creed in a study of inhibition in the spinal cord, and in 1928 he investigates crossed extensor reflexes with R.A. Granit. Reflex responses are measured as muscle contractions by means of an optical isometric myograph, the design of which is improved after Eccles discovers that friction in the bearing distorts the records.
John Eccles is born in Northcote, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia. He grows up there with his two sisters and his parents (both teachers) who home school him until he is 12.
John Eccles begins his five-year course in medicine at the age of 17. He lives at home and attends tutorials at Newman College (University of Melbourne). In February 1925, he receives bachelor's degrees in Medicine and Surgery, gaining First Class Honours and First Place. He also receives a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Magdalen College, Oxford University.
John Eccles works as Professor of Physiology at the University of Otago, New Zealand. In this period, he returns to synaptic transmission in the central nervous system. In 1951, Brock, Coombs and Eccles succeed for the first time in inserting microelectrodes into nerve cells of the central nervous system and in recording the electrical responses produced by excitatory and inhibitory synapses.
John Eccles receives the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, shared with A.L. Hodgkin and A.F. Huxley "for their discoveries concerning the ionic mechanisms involved in excitation and inhibition in the peripheral and central portions of the nerve cell membrane".
In the years from 1953-1955, in collaboration with Coombs and Fatt, Eccles concentrates his attention on the biophysical properties of synaptic transmission (the research that has been cited in the Nobel Award). The conceptual basis of these investigations derives from the hypotheses of the ionic mechanisms of membrane activity that has been developed by Alan L. Hodgkin, Andrew F. Huxley, Bernard Katz and Richard D. Keynes in England.
John Eccles is Distinguished Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at State University of New York, Buffalo. He describes his research facilities as the best he has ever had although on a smaller scale than in Canberra. He revisits hippocampal inhibition, the subject of his three last experimental papers. His team reports that barbiturates prolong postsynaptic potentials. He also studies the anionic permeability underlying hippocampal IPSPs, by polarization of the membrane and anion injection.
John Eccles marries in Oxford Irene Francis Miller, whom he has met in Melbourne. They have five daughters and four sons. Their eldest daughter, Rosamond Margaret, will become a neurophysiologist.
John Eccles studies science and mathematics for one year at Melbourne High School, where he heads the school at the final State-wide examination, shares the State geometry prize, and gains a Senior Scholarship to the University.
John Eccles voluntarily retires and moves to Contra to dedicate himself to work on the mind-brain problem. From here he travels extensively, attending scientific meetings, lecturing and playing a prominent role in the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War organization. In 1978, Eccles and P.L. McGeer recognize two general types of the postsynaptic action of transmitters: "ionotropic", and "metabotropic".
John Eccles is Senior Researcher at Institute for Biomedical Research, American Medical Association in Chicago. An important factor in Eccles's decision to leave Australia is his feeling of intellectual isolation, especially in relation to his increasing interests in philosophy and the mind-brain interaction. Later, he will describe the years spent in Chicago as "the briefest, the least successful, and the most unhappy (stage) of my research career".
John Eccles voluntarily retires and becomes Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the State University of New York, Buffalo. He moves to Contra to dedicate himself to work on the mind-brain problem. From here he travels extensively, attending scientific meetings, lecturing and playing a prominent role in the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War organization. In 1978, Eccles and P.L. McGeer recognize two general types of the postsynaptic action of transmitters: "ionotropic", and "metabotropic".
John Eccles studies under Charles Scott Sherrington, whom Eccles describes as "the one man in the world whom I wished to have as my master". He spends two years studying for the Final Honours School in Physiology and Biochemistry. In mid-1927, he is awarded First Class Honours, the Christopher Welch Scholarship and a Gotch Prize. In 1929, he earns the Oxford D. Phil. degree for a thesis on Excitation and Inhibition.
John Eccles is a Tutorial Fellow and University Lecturer in Physiology. He returns to synaptic transmission selecting the superior cervical sympathetic ganglion as a simpler system than the spinal cord. He accepts that ACh released by presynaptic impulses is the chemical mediator for slow excitation, but the failure of the ACh esterase inhibitor physostigmine to prolong the fast component of ganglionic responses strengthens his doubts that the fast excitatory process might be chemical.
John Eccles is Professor of Physiology, John Curtin School of Medical Research, Australian National University, Canberra.
John Eccles becomes Director at Kanematsu Memorial Institute of Pathology in Sydney. There, he benefits from the distinguished collaboration of Bernard Katz and Stephen Kuffler. This period is largely devoted to an electrophysiological analysis of the neuromuscular junctions of cats and frogs, but later his time is almost entirely occupied by applied science related to the war effort.
John Eccles attends for four years the Warrnambool High School.
John Eccles dies in the Hospital La Carita in Locarno. He is buried on 3 May 1997, following his own wish, in Contra.