Vane, Sir John Robert


Vane, Sir John Robert
▪ 2005

      British pharmacologist (b. March 29, 1927, Tardebigg, Worcestershire, Eng.—d. Nov. 19, 2004, Farnborough, Kent, Eng.), conducted pioneering research in the study of hormonelike substances in the body called prostaglandins; he shared the 1982 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Swedish biochemists Sune K. Bergström (q.v. (Bergstrom, Sune Karl )) and Bengt I. Samuelsson. Vane discovered in 1971 that the beneficial effects of aspirin, which include the reduction of fever, pain, inflammation, and blood-clot formation, were the result of aspirin's property of blocking the formation of prostaglandins and related substances. His research led to the discovery of prostacyclin, a prostaglandin derivative that is important for the health of blood vessels, and to the development of ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors, widely used in the treatment of high blood pressure. Vane received a doctorate (1953) in pharmacology at St. Catherine's College, Oxford. He joined (1955) the faculty of the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, London, and later became the director (1973) of research and development at the Wellcome Foundation. He was also the founding director (1986) of the William Harvey Research Institute, London, which specialized in cardiovascular research. Vane was knighted in 1984.

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▪ British biochemist
born March 29, 1927, Tardebigg, Worcestershire, England
died November 19, 2004, Farnborough, Hampshire

      English biochemist who, with Sune K. Bergström (Bergström, Sune K.) and Bengt Ingemar Samuelsson (Samuelsson, Bengt Ingemar), won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1982 for the isolation, identification, and analysis of prostaglandins, which are biochemical compounds that influence blood pressure, body temperature, allergic reactions, and other physiological phenomena in mammals.

      Vane graduated from the University of Birmingham in 1946 and earned a doctorate at the University of Oxford in 1953. He spent several years on the faculty of Yale University (1953–55) in the United States before returning to England to join the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences of the University of London. In 1973 he became research director of the Wellcome Research Laboratories in Beckenham, Kent, a post he held until 1985. In 1986 Vane founded the William Harvey Research Institute, attached to St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London, which funded cardiovascular research. He remained with the institute, in various positions, until his death.

      As part of his Nobel Prize-winning work, Vane demonstrated that aspirin inhibits the formation of prostaglandins associated with pain, fever, and inflammation, thus providing a physiological rationale for the effectiveness of the world's most widely used drug. He also discovered prostacyclin, an important prostaglandin that plays a vital role in the process of blood coagulation.

      Vane, the recipient of numerous honours, was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1974 and was made an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1982. He was knighted in 1984.

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Universalium. 2010.

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