Directors | Rowett Centenary | The University of Aberdeen



Sir John Boyd Orr

Boyd OrrThe founding Director of the Rowett Institute and of modern nutrition science. He was the first scientist to show that there was a link between poverty, poor diet and ill health. In 1936 he showed that at least one third of the UK population were so poor that they couldn't afford to buy sufficient food to provide a healthy diet.

Among his many research findings was the demonstration of the nutritional benefits in young children of drinking milk - a result which led to the introduction of free school milk. The landmark Carnegie Survey of Diet and Health in Pre-War Britain, which Boyd Orr masterminded, was used by the UK Government to help formulate the food ration during World War II.

When Boyd Orr retired from the Institute in 1945, he embarked on another career as the first Director General of the Food and Agricultural Organisation. Among his many awards he received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1949, the same year as he was knighted.


Sir David Cuthbertson

CuthbertsonBoyd Orr was succeeded as Director in 1945 by Dr David Cuthbertson, who came from the Medical Research Council. Under Cuthbertson's direction the Institute greatly expanded, but its research was changed to focus entirely on farm animal nutrition. The realisation during the war that the nation's farmers produced only a third of its food led to the emergence in 1945 of agriculture as a priority industry for post-war Britain. No work on human nutrition was considered necessary in view of the success of wartime food policies.

Sir David oversaw a tremendous expansion of the institute's research activities and a matching growth in buildings and facilities. Again, the Institute benefited from a large number of generous benefactors. Sir David retired from the Institute in 1965 and the annual Cuthbertson award was introduced in his memory. The award recognises postgraduate students who have carried out research of a particularly high standard during their time at the Institute.


Kenneth Lyon Blaxter

BlaxterKenneth Lyon Blaxter was the third Rowett Director from 1965-1982. His previous post was Head of the Nutrition Department at the Hannah Research Institute based in Ayr.

During his time as Director, the Institute considerably enhanced its position as a world leader in research on animal nutrition, focusing on the needs of the farming industry.

Sir Kenneth was a man with tremendous energy and produced over 400 scientific papers and reports during his career. He was a world expert on the energy metabolism of ruminant animals. He also received a great many honours, including Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1967.

Towards the end of his time with the Rowett, Sir Kenneth introduced a limited programme of research on human nutrition, reflecting the growing awareness of the need for more studies in this area.


Professor WPT James

JamesProfessor James arrived at the Rowett in 1982 and under his direction the research on human nutrition was once again expanded.

Professor James became recognised as a world expert in the field of human nutrition. He made many important contributions to the development of nutrition policy and is an advisor to many international organisations.

Under his Directorship the Human Nutrition Unit was established at the Institute, which provides facilities for dietary and metabolic studies.

Professor James developed blueprint proposals which led to the Government White paper `The Food Standards Agency: A force for change', which ultimately led to the establishment of the Food Standards Agency.


Professor Peter Morgan

MorganProfessor Peter Morgan was appointed as Director of the Rowett on 1 July 1999, having  been a member of staff since 1985.

Professor Morgan has developed a new vision and science strategy for the Institute to ensure that the science undertaken  by the Institute remains as relevant today as it has in the past

He is a member of several key committees related to scientific strategy and implementation.  These include the Scottish Science Advisory Committee, BBSRC Healthy Organism Strategy Panel, Steering Group of BBSRC Diet and Health Research Industry Club (DRINC), the Scientific Committee of the German Human Nutrition Institute, Potsdam, Germany and the Governing Council of NuGO (an EU-funded Network of Excellence in Nutrigenomics) as well as the Executive Committee of the NuGO Association. 

Professor Morgan is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh as well as the Institute of Biology. He continues to maintain an active research group at the Institute (Molecular Endocrinology) focused upon the physiological regulation of energy balance and growth and the role of biological timing systems in physiology.