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Lifetime Achievement Winners

sir james black om

(1924-2010) Nobel Laureate

Winner of a Medical Futures Lifetime Achievement Award

James Whyte Black was the son of a mining engineer from Cowdenbeath, a small mining village in Fife, Scotland. After reading Medicine at St Andrews he embarked on a career as a physiologist. Black thought out of the box, and had a wealth of ideas of new ways of discovering drugs. In 1964 his ideas yielded a new class of drugs the "beta-blockers" that have been used to treat high blood pressure, migranes and heart attacks and quickly became the world's best-selling drug. For most the invention of one blockbuster would be a lifetime's work. But Sir James then went onto discover the anti-ulcer treatment cimetidine, which in the 1970 also became the biggest selling prescription drug of any kind in the world.

Sir James was awarded a Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1988 and was Knighted for services to medical research in 1981, followed by the Order of Merit in 2000.

"Jim gave rise to the initial blockbusters that gave rise to the initial ratings, the growth of the big pharmaceutical companies in the 70's and 80's when there was a wealth of productivity, a great deal of wealth created, but for mankind an enormous change in the quality of our lives" said Sir William Castell, Chairman of the Wellcome Trust.

In 2008, in the presence of his wife Professor Rona MacKie and hundreds of colleagues and peers, Sir James was recognised with a Medical Futures Lifetime Achievement Award for changing people's lives.

Sir James sadly passed away on 22 March 2010, aged 85. Former colleague, Bill Duncan, said "In developing beta blockers and peptic ulcer drugs, Jim Black relieved more human suffering than thousands of doctors have done in a lifetime at the bedside."

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