James Whyte Black

Jim graduated in Medicine with commendation from the University of St Andrews (Scotland) in 1946 and then spent 12 years in academic physiology successively at the Universities of St Andrews, Malaya and Glasgow. Jim has worked in histamine research for over 40 years and the discovery of the different adrenaline ß-receptors suggested to him that histamine must also have more than one receptor. After working at ICI (1958-64), he moved as Head of Biological Research to SmithKline & French to pursue the search for a new histamine antagonist to sort out the relationship between histamine and gastrin in the stomach. In 1972, his famous Nature paper appeared announcing the second population of the histamine receptor (H2). In 1973, Jim moved to University College London (UCL) to become Head of the Department of Pharmacology. Together with Professor Charles Vernon, he developed the new medicinal chemistry degree, which has provided the histamine field with so many able researchers. In 1978, he moved to Wellcome Research as Director of Therapeutic Research. He returned to academia in 1984 when he went to Kings College London as Professor of Analytical Pharmacology and then to found the Sir James Black Foundation as an independent research institute for promoting the rational basis for new drug research. Sir James has made an enormous and highly rigorous scientific contribution to the histamine field for which he has received too many honours for me to list them in their entirety. Sir James was knighted in 1981, received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1988, has been Chancellor of the University of Dundee since 1992 and has 17 honorary degrees. He has received many medals for his work including the Gold Medal (The Royal Society of Medicine), the Wellcome Gold medal (British Pharmacological Society) and the Golden Medal – Medicus Magnus (Polish Academy of Medcine). Sir James Black died on 22nd of March 2010.