John Boyd Orr

1880 - 1971

John Boyd Orr was the founding father of modern nutrition science, the first scientist to show a link between poverty, poor diet and ill health. He was born in Kilmaurs and brought up in West Kilbride.

Boyd Orr graduated from Glasgow University MA, MD and DSc. His work in Aberdeen was interrupted by World War I where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross for his courage in the battle of the Somme. In the Great War of 1914-1918 Boyd Orr’s interest in food meant the men in the trenches under his command remained in better health than their comrades. He made his soldiers collect vegetables from the surrounding fields and boil them up for a nutritious soup.

John Boyd Orr

John Boyd Orr became the first director of the Rowett Institute when it opened in 1922. Studying children at Tarves, Aberdeenshire he showed the value of milk in promoting growth and advised the Government to give it to all school children. His work tackling malnutrition was used by the Government to determine rationing in the Second World War.

Boyd Orr left the Rowett Institute in 1945 to become the first Director General of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation and in 1949 he received the Nobel Peace prize for his work in reducing worldwide hunger and donated all the prize money to organisations concerned with world peace. He was made the first Baron Boyd Orr of Brechin and spent his later years farming near Edzell in Angus. He died in 1971.

He is commemorated by a plaque on the Director's House of the Rowett Institute.