Interview with Professor Patrick Humphrey, conducted by Professor Tilli Tansey, for the History of Modern Biomedicine Research Group, 08 February 2016, in the School of History, Queen Mary University of London. Transcribed by Mrs Debra Gee, and edited by Professor Tilli Tansey and Dr Apostolos Zarros. The project management and the technical support (filming and production) were undertaken by Mr Adam Wilkinson and Mr Alan Yabsley, respectively.
Professor Patrick Humphrey OBE DSc PhD HonFBPhS (b. 1946) was born in South Africa and graduated from the School of Pharmacy, University of London, in 1968, with a strong interest in drug receptor theory. After obtaining a PhD in Pharmacology at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School and briefly working as a Lecturer in the Department of Physiology there, he joined Allen & Hanburys at Ware to initiate a project on migraine. His work on cerebrovascular pharmacology led directly to the development of sumatriptan, the prototype of a new drug class (the triptans) for the treatment of migraine. During this time, he became the overall Director of the Glaxo Division of Pharmacology that was not only instrumental in the discovery of sumatriptan, but also naratriptan, alosetron, ondansetron, vapiprost, and salmeterol, covering a broad spectrum of therapeutic areas. He has received many important academic honours, including an honorary Professorship from the University of Cambridge, as well as the Royal Society’s Mullard medal. In 1999, he was awarded the OBE for ‘services to migraine research’. He maintains a passion for research aimed at drug discovery and was latterly the successful Head of Research and Executive Vice President at Theravance in South San Francisco from 2001 to 2008. He has over 300 published scientific papers and book chapters to his name and was ranked fourth in the list of total literature citations in Pharmacology and Toxicology from 1994 to 2004. He is currently consulting for a number of new, innovative pharmaceutical companies and is a non-executive Director on the Board of Verona Pharma plc.
The History of Modern Biomedicine Research Group is funded by the Wellcome Trust, which is a registered charity (no. 210183). The current interview has been funded by the Wellcome Trust Strategic Award entitled “Makers of modern biomedicine: testimonies and legacy” (2012-2017; awarded to Professor Tilli Tansey).
The interview is part of the History of the Modern Biomedicine Interviews (Digital Collection).
Access to the transcript of this video interview and its related material:
History of Modern Biomedicine Interviews (Digital Collection), items e2016021-e20160033.
Example of how to cite: Tansey E M (intvr); Yabsley A (prod) (2016) Humphrey, Patrick: 01 - Becoming a pharmacologist: The School of Pharmacy and St. Mary’s (08-Feb-2016). History of Modern Biomedicine Interviews (Digital Collection), item e2016022. London: Queen Mary University of London.
Access to the transcript of a longer, audio interview:
Note: Video interviews are conducted following standard oral history methodology, and have received ethical approval (reference QMREC 0642). Video interview transcripts are edited only for clarity and factual accuracy. Related material has been deposited in the Wellcome Library.
© The Trustee of the Wellcome Trust, London, 2016
Professor Humphrey has contributed to Wellcome Witness Seminars on Drugs Affecting 5-HT Systems and Migraine: Diagnosis, Treatment and Understanding c.1960–2010.