James Whyte Black: A shift in pharmacological practice
James Whyte Black is a researcher who synthesised propranolol and cimetidine
- By: Stephen M Boyle
Yes, very much so. I don’t get through the same volume of work I used to, but I enjoy the freedom of being able to work on what I want and the time to be able to read and keep up with the literature.
I was working with a surgeon at Glasgow veterinary school who was interested in finding a way to increase coronary blood flow in patients with angina. I reckoned that it might be equally effective to reduce myocardial oxygen demand and that reducing sympathetic drive by blocking β adrenergic receptors could be the key. ICI Pharmaceuticals took me on and had the faith to support me and my team for six years while we experimented with various bioassays to identify an agent with specific β adrenoceptor action. The end result of this work was propranolol, the first clinically useful β blocker.