Sir James Black, OM FRS FRSE FRCP, Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 1988

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Sir James Whyte Black

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
Death: March 22, 2010 (86)
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom (Illness)
Place of Burial: Nairn, Scotland
Immediate Family:

Son of Mr. Black
Husband of Hilary Joan Black and Private
Father of Private

Managed by: Yigal Burstein
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Sir James Black, OM FRS FRSE FRCP, Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 1988

Sir James Whyte Black OM FRS FRSE FRCP (14 June 1924 – 22 March 2010) was a Scottish pharmacologist. Black established the physiology department at the University of Glasgow, where he became interested in the effects of adrenaline on the human heart. He went to work for ICI Pharmaceuticals in 1958 and, while there, developed propranolol, a beta blocker used for the treatment of heart disease. Black was also responsible for the development of cimetidine, a H2 receptor antagonist, a drug used in a similar manner to treat stomach ulcers. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1988 for work leading to the development of propranolol and cimetidine.

Honours and awards

Black was made a Knight Bachelor on 10 February 1981 for services to medical research, receiving the honour from the Queen at Buckingham Palace. On 26 May 2000 he was appointed to the Order of Merit, of which there are only 24 members at any one time, by Queen Elizabeth II.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1976 and the same year he was awarded the Lasker award. In 1979, he was awarded the Artois-Baillet Latour Health Prize. In 1982 Black was awarded the Wolf Prize in Medicine. and the year after the Scheele Award. He was awarded the 1988 Nobel Prize in Medicine along with Gertrude B. Elion and George H. Hitchings for their work on drug development. In 1994 he received the Ellison-Cliffe Medal from the Royal Society of Medicine.

Personal life

Black met Hilary Joan Vaughan (1924–1986) at a ball at university in 1944 and the couple married in 1946 upon his graduation. He described her as the "mainspring" of his life until she died aged 61 in Surrey. The couple had a daughter, Stephanie, born in 1951. Black remarried in 1994, to Professor Rona MacKie. Black was a very private man who was averse to publicity and was horrified to discover he had won the Nobel Prize.

Black died, aged 85, on the morning of 22 March 2010 after a long illness. His death was announced by the University of Dundee, where Black served as Chancellor from 1992 to 2006. His funeral was held on 29 March at St. Columba's Church, London. He is buried at the Ardclach cemetery, a parish established in 1655, near Nairn, Scotland. Upon hearing of Black's death, Professor Pete Downes, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee said Black "was a great scientist, but he was also a great man to know" while the BBC said he was "hailed as one of the great Scottish scientists of the 20th Century". He was described by The Daily Telegraph as the man who earned the most for the pharmaceutical industry through his drug development, though he received little personal financial gain from his work.

In 2010 the Bute Medical School of the University of St Andrews, where Black had studied his initial degree in medicine, announced that an honorary 'Sir James Black Chair of Medicine' would be created. In September 2010 the first Chair of Medicine at the University was given to Professor Stephen H Gillespie MD, DSc, FRCP (Edin), FRC Path, who left his post as Professor of Medical Microbiology at UCL.


Sir James Whyte Black OM FRCP FRS FRSE (14 June 1924 – 22 March 2010) was a Scottish pharmacologist. Black established the physiology department at the University of Glasgow, where he became interested in the effects of adrenaline on the human heart. He went to work for ICI Pharmaceuticals in 1958 and, while there, developed propranolol, a beta blocker used for the treatment of heart disease. Black was also responsible for the development of cimetidine, a H2 receptor antagonist, a drug used in a similar manner to treat stomach ulcers. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1988 for work leading to the development of propranolol and cimetidine.

Black was born on 14 June 1924 in Uddingston, Lanarkshire, the fourth of five sons of a Baptist family which traced its origins to Balquhidder, Perthshire. His father was a mining engineer. He was brought up in Fife, educated at Beath High School, Cowdenbeath, and, at the age of 15, won a scholarship to the University of St Andrews. His family had been too poor to send him to university and he had been persuaded to sit the St Andrews entrance exam by his maths teacher at Beath.

Until 1967, University College, Dundee was the site for all clinical medical activity for the University of St Andrews. He matriculated at University College (which eventually became the University of Dundee) in 1943 and graduated from University of St Andrews School of Medicine with an MB ChB in 1946. During his time at St Andrews, Black lived in St Salvator's Hall.

After graduating, he stayed at University College to join the physiology department as an assistant lecturer before taking a lecturer position at the University of Malaya. Black had decided against a career as a medical practitioner as he objected to what he considered the insensitive treatment of patients at the time.

Honours and awards

Black was made a Knight Bachelor on 10 February 1981 for services to medical research, receiving the honour from the Queen at Buckingham Palace. On 26 May 2000 he was appointed to the Order of Merit, of which there are only 24 members at any one time, by Queen Elizabeth II.

Black was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1976 and the same year he was awarded the Lasker award.

In 1979, he was awarded the Artois-Baillet Latour Health Prize. In 1982 Black was awarded the Wolf Prize in Medicine. and the year after the Scheele Award. He was awarded the 1988 Nobel Prize in Medicine along with Gertrude B. Elion and George H. Hitchings for their work on drug development. In 1994 he received the Ellison-Cliffe Medal from the Royal Society of Medicine.

Black met Hilary Joan Vaughan (1924–1986) at a ball at university in 1944 and the couple married in 1946 upon his graduation. He described her as the "mainspring" of his life until she died aged 61 in Surrey. The couple had a daughter, Stephanie, born in 1951.[6] Black remarried in 1994, to Professor Rona MacKie.

Black died, aged 85, on the morning of 22 March 2010 after a long illness. His death was announced by the University of Dundee, where Black served as Chancellor from 1992 to 2006. His funeral was held on 29 March at St. Columba's Church, London. He is buried at the Ardclach cemetery, a parish established in 1655, near Nairn, Scotland.

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Sir James Black, OM FRS FRSE FRCP, Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 1988's Timeline

1924
January 14, 1924
Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
2010
March 22, 2010
Age 86
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
????
Nairn, Scotland