Dr Ann Silver studied physiology at Edinburgh University where she completed a PhD (1960) as an external student whilst carrying out research at the Agricultural Research Council Institute of Animal Physiology at Babraham, Cambridgeshire. Her research involved electrophysiological studies of nerve fibres exposed to organophosphorous compounds and also the transport of choline acetyltransferase down nerves.
Dr Silver’s book, Biology of Cholinesterases (1974), was an important source of information, ideas and inspiration for a generation of cholinesterase researchers. She later laid the foundations for the ‘cholinergic hypothesis’ of Alzheimer’s disease, which led to the development of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors to treat it. She has been ethical editor on the Journal of Physiology and was involved in drafting the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, which regulates the ways in which animal experimentation is conducted in the UK.