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Girton College : Dorothy Needham, China 1972

Needham, Dorothy M. (Dorothy Mary), 1896-1987

Girton College

<p style='text-align: justify;'>Dorothy Mary Moyle Needham (1896-1987) was educated at Claremont College, Stockport, and St. Hilary's School, Alderley Edge, before studying at Girton College Cambridge in 1915-1919. She studied for the Natural Sciences Tripos, passing Part I in 1918 and Part II, specialising in Chemistry, in 1919. After graduating, she did research on aerobic synthesis of the muscle fuel glycogen, working under F G Hopkins and the Sir William Dunn Institute of Biochemistry, Cambridge. She received the 'title' of BA and MA in 1923 (women were not admitted to Cambridge University degrees or to membership of the University until 1948). Née Moyle, she married Joseph Needham, a fellow worker in Hopkins's laboratory, in 1924. She received a Beit Memorial Fellowship for 1925-28, and received the ‘title’ of PhD in 1926. Her most important work was on carbohydrate metabolism in muscle. From 1930 to 1940 she worked on the part played by ATP (adenosinetriphosphate) in the contraction of muscle. In 1940, she joined Dr Malcolm Dixon's chemical defence research group to work on the effects of chemical weapons (especially of mustard gas) on the metabolism of skin and bone-marrow. She was in China in 1944-45, while Joseph Needham was Scientific Counsellor at the British Embassy in Chungking (Chongqing), and was appointed Associate Director of the Sino-British Cooperation Office. She was awarded the Cambridge University ScD (1945) and elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society (1948). She also visited China later in life, in 1964 and 1972. This is her diary from her July-September 1972 visit, when she was with Joseph Needham and Lu Gwei-Djen. Her diaries record, usually in some detail, her notes on travel, institutions visited and contacts made, as well as her observations on the condition of science and scientists, and daily life in China. </p>

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