James Black, fully Sir James Whyte Black

James
Black, fully Sir James Whyte Black
1924
2010

Scottish Pharmacologist, Established the Physiology Department at The University Of Glasgow

Author Quotes

The outcome, the fourth in an issue of five boys born into a staunch Baptist home, meant that from the beginning I was taught to be respectful of others no less than myself, influencing ever since both my political and administrative attitudes.

The techniques have galloped ahead of the concepts. We have moved away from studying the complexity of the organism; from processes and organization to composition.

The Wellcome Foundation offered me the chance to establish a small academic research unit, modestly funded, but with total independence. The real opportunity, however, came from King's College, London.

There is no shortage of scientific talent. But I am much less optimistic about the managerial vision [of the pharmaceutical industry] to catalyse these talents to deliver the results we all want.

I call myself a pharmacological toolmaker.

We paid off our debts, we learned some, made friends and returned in 1950 with a larger view of life. I had, however, no home, no income of any kind and no prospects whatsoever.

I did help to set up an undergraduate course in medicinal chemistry and made progress in modelling and analyzing pharmacological activity at the tissue level, my new passion.

I had found myself a new mission - and once more my recurring dilemma between corporate commercial needs and personal scientific ambitions was solved unexpectedly.

I learnt, for the first time, the joys of substituting hard, disciplined study for the indulgence of day-dreaming.

I met Hilary Vaughan at a Student Ball in 1944 and we married in the summer of 1946, as soon as I graduated.

I never found it easy. People say I was lucky twice but I resent that. We stuck with [cimetidine] for four years with no progress until we eventually succeeded. It was not luck, it was bloody hard work.

I wish I had my beta-blockers handy.

In teaching, I wanted to offer a general pharmacology course based on chemical principles, biochemical classification and mathematical modelling. In the event I achieved neither of my ambitions.

My father, a mining engineer and colliery manager, gave his brood many advantages not least of which, for me, was his love of singing which gave music a central place in our lives.

No politics, no committees, no reports, no referees, no interviews ? just highly motivated people picked by a few men of good judgment.

Our brains seem to be organized to make random comparisons of the contents of our memories. Daydreaming allows the process to go into free fall. Suddenly, there is a new idea, born with intense excitement. We cannot organize this process but we can distort or even defeat it.

Peer reviewers go for orthodoxy ... Many of the great 19th-century discoveries were made by men who had independent wealth-Charles Darwin is the prototype. They trusted themselves.

All I ever promised was that I was sure I could develop a new pharmacological agent which might answer a physiological question. Any utility would be implicit in that answer.

Apart from two periods of intense study, of music between the ages of 12 and 14 and of mathematics between the ages of 14 and 16, I coasted, daydreaming, through most of my school years.

During my six years with them Dr. Garnet Davey (subsequently Research Director) constantly supported me and, I have no doubt, fought many battles on my behalf to keep the initially controversial programme going.

Half-jokingly, I asked what was wrong with me. So we made a deal: I would run his biological research provided I had a free hand to run my new project.

Author Picture
First Name
James
Last Name
Black, fully Sir James Whyte Black
Birth Date
1924
Death Date
2010
Bio

Scottish Pharmacologist, Established the Physiology Department at The University Of Glasgow