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Famous King's People

Sir James Black

Sir James Black OM (1924-2010), Emeritus Professor of Analytical Pharmacology at King's, received the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1988 for the development of two major families of drugs:

- Beta-blockers, used for the treatment of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and heart failure.

- Anti-ulcer histamine receptor blocking drugs, including the best-selling Tagamet.  

Brought up in Fife, he graduated from the University of St Andrews.

After lecturing at the universities of St Andrews, Malaya and Glasgow, he worked in industry for ICI and Smith, Kline and French and was Professor of Pharmacology at University College London. From 1978 he was Director of Therapeutic Research for the Wellcome Research Laboratories. He came to King's in 1984.

In 2000 he was given the UK’s highest honour, the Order of Merit.

Analytical pharmacology

He is credited with introducing analytical pharmacology as a new way of thinking to the process of drug development. His approach was based on an understanding of how cells use messenger molecules to communicate with each other.

He was Chairman of the James Black Foundation, founded in 1988: a not-for-profit group of scientists engaged in new drug research.

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