Principal pays tribute to Nobel Prize-winner Sir James Black

The Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow has paid tribute to Nobel Prize-winner and former Veterinary School lecturer Sir James Black, who died on Monday after a long illness. He was 85.

Sir James, who joined the Veterinary School in 1950 and established the Physiology Department at Glasgow, was best known for his work on beta-blockers and for devising a way of curbing stomach acidity to aid the healing of ulcers.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine, along with fellow scientists Gertrude Elion and George Hitchings, for “their discoveries of important principles for drug treatments".

Professor Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: “Sir James was one of a handful of great scientists, who through his commitment, intellect and insight achieved a global impact and one which has improved the lives of many.

“I know I speak for many colleagues at the University of Glasgow when I say we very much regret his passing.”

Sir James is survived by his wife Rona Mackie, Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Fellow of the University's Public Health and Public Policy department. Professor Mackie is a leading authority on skin cancer with a special interest in the changing epidemiology of melanoma in Scotland.

After graduating in Medicine from the University of St Andrews, Sir James became a lecturer in Malaya before moving back to Scotland to take up the post at the Veterinary School.

In 1958, Black joined the pharmaceuticals company ICI and later worked for Smith, Kline & French and with the Wellcome Foundation.

In 1973 he was appointed Professor of Pharmacology at University College, London, and in 1978 he became Professor of Analytical Pharmacology at King's College, London, holding the Chair until 1992.

Sir James was knighted in 1981 and was the Chancellor of the University of Dundee from 1992 until May 2006. And in 2000 he was given the Order of Merit, the highest honour that can be bestowed upon an individual personally by the Queen.

His funeral will be held in London next week.

For more information contact Nic White in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3535 or email

First published: 24 March 2010

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