Eggleston Notebooks

Ref: MS 253

Title: Eggleston Notebooks

Scope:
A set of notebooks recording biochemical research carried out by Leonard Victor Eggleston (1920-1974), research assistant to Hans Adolf Krebs, together with a thesis

Dates: 1941-1974
Level: Fonds
Extent: 5 boxes (21 items)
Name of creator: Leonard Eggleston

Administrative / biographical history:

The set of 20 notebooks and one BSc thesis records biochemical research carried out by Len Eggleston, research assistant to the Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Hans Krebs, between the years 1941-1974 (for information on Krebs see the entry for the Krebs Papers). They commence during the Second World War, when Krebs was engaged as part of the war effort in work on nutrition at Sheffield Universitys Sorby Research Institute (see entry under Sorby Research Institute Collection), and continue in the post-war period at the Universities of Sheffield and Oxford. A few letters relating to the work of the Sorby Research Institute found in the notebooks are noted in the itemised list.

An early notebook of Eggleston, dating from July 25 1936, forms part of the Krebs Papers (ref. D22 (Notebook 13)). Another, dating from 1962, forms part of the Hems Notebooks (ref. 307/16).

Leonard Victor Eggleston (1920-1974), described by Krebs as "a reliable, a resourceful and long-standing collaborator", was born in Sheffield and was educated at Marlcliffe Intermediate School. Initially employed as a laboratory assistant in the Department of Physics at Sheffield University, he moved in January 1936 at the age of 16 to join Krebs in the Department of Pharmacology as Krebs´ first technician, and thenceforth remained with Krebs´ research team until his death in January 1974. Until the end of the war he was Krebs´ only "semi-permanent (but eventually permanent) technical assistant". Eggleston was thus active in the Department during the work on the Citric Acid Cycle (the Krebs Cycle) for which Krebs later received a Nobel Prize, and the war-time nutritional work of the Sorby Research Institute. His aptitude for biochemical research is evidenced by the fact that from modest beginnings many research papers came to be published under Eggleston´s name, in collaboration with Krebs or other members of the team and, later, also by Eggleston as sole author.

In 1945 the Medical Research Council set up a Unit for Research in Cell Metabolism at Sheffield with Krebs as its Head. Following the award to Krebs in 1953, for his pre-war work on the Citric Acid Cycle, of a Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine, he was offered and accepted the Whitley Chair of Biochemistry at Oxford University. The move to Oxford entailed the relocation of the MRC Unit to the Metabolic Research Laboratory in the Radcliffe Infirmary, and most of Krebs Sheffield research team, including Eggleston, elected to move with him, a situation described by Krebs as "a severe test of the solidarity of the team". At Oxford, although the work of Krebs´ Department covered wider aspects of biochemical research, the MRC team of which Eggleston was a member "turned its attention from metabolic pathways to regulatory mechanisms of metabolism", in Krebs´ words. In 1958 Eggleston was awarded a BSc degree - his St. Catherine´s Society thesis is in this collection.

Although Krebs was obliged to retire from University employment in September 1967 and the MRC Metabolic Research Unit was due to be wound up, the Medical Research Council was prepared to continue its financial support for Krebs´ work and to support a smaller research team. Krebs was thus able to move to accommodation offered by the Department of Clinical Medicine with four of his researchers, including Eggleston, and ancillary staff. The work undertaken from this point was deliberately designed to be of relevance to clinical work. Eggleston remained with the team until his death in January 1974.

The Krebs Papers at Sheffield include a résumé by Eggleston of his work and publications up to 1948, whilst the BSc thesis in this collection lists his publications from 1938-1958. He is also mentioned in Krebs´ memoir Reminiscences and reflections, in collaboration with Anne Martin, Clarendon Press 1981, and the two-volume biography (only up to the year 1937) by Frederic Lawrence Holmes, Hans Krebs, Oxford University Press, 1991-93.

The University of Sheffield Library is grateful to Drs Tilli Tansey and Pamela Lear of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine for arranging for this collection to come to Sheffield.

  • Related collections: Krebs Papers; Sorby Research Institute Collection: Hems Notebooks
  • Source: Donated by the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, 2000
  • System of arrangement: Chronologically within category
  • Subjects: Biochemists - Great Britain
  • Conditions of access: Available to all researchers, by appointment
  • Restrictions: None
  • Copyright: According to document
  • Finding aids: Listed