Kenneth James Franklin arrow_drop_down

BA Oxon (1921) BM BCh MA (1924) DM (1927) MRCP (1934) FRCP (1940) DSc Lond (1949) FRS (1955) FRCOG (1964) Hon Fellow Fac History of Medicine Soc of Apothecaries (1964)

11 January 1897 – 04 August 1966

K.J. Franklin was born in London and educated at Christ’s Hospital, Horsham, from whence he won an Open Scholarship in Classics to Oriel College, Oxford, in 1915. He served as an officer in the Royal Artillery until the end of the war when he went to Oxford, read Animal Physiology, in which he obtained 1st Class Honours, and became a demonstrator under Sir Charles Sherrington while finishing his anatomical studies. He went to Bart’s for clinical studies, and acted as a Demonstrator in Physiology under Sir Charles Lovatt Evans and as a week-end tutor in Physiology at Brasenose College, Oxford. He was Fellow and Tutor at Oriel from 1924 to 1947, being at first a lecturer, then called University Demonstrator, in Pharmacology from 1924 to 1935, when he moved to the Nuffield Institute for Medical Research as Assistant Director. During this time he served as Dean of the Medical School, and as Librarian of his College. He went back to Bart’s as Professor of Physiology in 1947 and worked at reestablishing the department after wartime difficulties. He had a flair for the collection of competent staff and good students for his intercalated Hons BSc year. He suffered from cerebral vascular disturbances from 1957 and he retired early in 1958 to Yarnton, near Oxford.

He is best remembered as a tutor for 23 years at Oriel, with very happy and friendly relations with his pupils who remained devoted to ‘K.J’, his tutorials, his card index of suitable dinner jokes and fascinating historical lore. The composition of the Osier Society’s punch was found in his index under Toxicology. He was a shy man; many of his friends were killed in the 1914-18 war, but his kindness and warmth came through with congenial pupils and friends.

In his research he tried to apply the rigorous optical myographic methods then being used by Sherrington to the study of rings of smooth muscle, but he was more of an observer than experimentalist. He worked with Barclay and Barcroft using X-ray cinephotographic techniques and published The Foetal Circulation, 1944. Later he published together with Peter Daniel, M.M.L. Pritchard and J. Trueta, Studies on the Renal Circulation. This described the effect of injuries on the renal circulation with closing down of the peripheral glomeruli and increased flow of blood through the juxta-medullary glomeruli. Peter Daniel and Marjorie Pritchard went on to show that similar changes in the distribution of blood flow in organs can be induced in lung and in liver.

Franklin’s Monograph on Veins, published in 1937, is a masterly review of the literature, but apart from stream lines in veins contained little that is new.

He had a life-long interest in the history of medicine, translated De venarum ostiolis of Fabricius of Aquapendente and the Tractatus de corde of Richard Lower. He wrote a Short History of Physiology which is full of reliable information. He brought to the history of medicine a knowledge of classical Latin and Greek and a great veneration for William Harvey. He re-translated De motu cordis and produced a useful edition of Harvey’s later letters. His life of Joseph Barcroft is remarkable chiefly for its pietas.

He married Ethel Alice Adamson in 1928 and was survived by her and by a daughter.




[, 1966, 1, 238, 1305, 1367; Lancet, 1966, 1, 1108, 1165; Times, 9 May 1966; Univ. Lond. Gazette July 1958; Biogr.Mem.Roy.Soc., 1968, 14, 223-242; Photo.]

Courtesy of Royal College of Physicians, Munk’s Roll Volume VI, page 184