“Sir David Jack” – An extraordinary Scientist in Drug Discovery Space worldwide

Sir David Jack - GlaxoScientist “Sir David Jack”, Fellowship of the Royal Society, was an exceptionally brilliant scientist, who discovered novel drug compounds like Salbutamol, Solmetanol, and BDP Inhaler & Fluticasone. His fundamental research was focused to find the intervention options for Asthma which was very much common and treatment was underdeveloped.

In 1948, he graduated from University of Glassgow with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy and Pharmacology.  For one year, he was a lecturer in the Medical School and then away at National Service for 2 years. He worked as Pharmacist at Glaxo R&D wing at Greenford and later on left Glaxo as he found the job was dull and repetitive –& joined SmithKline & French Ltd in United Kingdom where he was responsible for Chemistry & Pharmacy.  In 1960, he received his Ph.D. from London University in Chemistry. He then went on to Smith Kline and French, followed by Allen and Hanburys and finally became overall Head of Research and Development at Glaxo until 1987.

He applied the fundamental applications of drug discovery processes like medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, analytical chemistry, drug metabolism, pharmaceutics etc. to turn the science into reality of well necessitated drug molecules for society.

His intellectual, applied & structured methodology for discovery of novel molecules keeping the need of hours in mind made him an exceptional scientist in the drug discovery space worldwide. He started working initially with 122 R & D staff after being assured by the Managing Director of Allen & Hamburg’s and the chairman of Glaxo that the staff will be increased to 200 because this was the minimum needed to find and develop significant new medicine.  The second assurance was that A&H will be given at least 5 years to show if we could do something useful.

He successfully materialized some of the most promising molecules in the history of drug discovery like

  • Inhaled beclamethasone diproprionate (Becotide®)
  • Fluticasone proprionate (Flixotide®)
  • Salbutamol/albuterol (Ventolin®)
  • Salmeterol (Serevent®) for asthma therapy
  • Labetalol (Trandate®) for hypertension
  • Ranitidine (Zantac®) for gastric acid diseases
  • Ondansetron (Zofran®) for the treatment of emesis associated with cancer chemotherapy
  • Sumatriptan (Imigran®/Imitrex®) for the treatment of migraine and cluster headache.

Dr. David’s team won a Second Queen’s Award in 1975 for the Becotide Inhaler which contained Beclamethasone dipropionate, a topical anti-inflammatory steroid.

He died in 8th Nov, 2011 at the age of 87. Because of his immense and exceptional contribution to GSK’s research pipelines, the company renamed the R&D site of Allen & Hanburys as the “Sir David Jack Research Center” as a tribute to the great scientist.

David will be most remembered for his ginormous contribution in the field of respiratory medicine.


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