RSE Sir James Black Medal

The RSE Sir James Black Medal recognises exceptional achievements in life sciences by a senior career researcher. This award meets with the Society’s strategic objective of increasing public understanding of science and the arts and humanities. The awardees are required to have a Scottish connection but can be based anywhere in the world.

Senior-career definition: academics who are normally beyond 15 years from the award of their doctorate. This terminology takes no account of either an applicant’s age or current status in determining eligibility for this award. This does not include career breaks.


Nominations are currently closed.


ABOUT Sir James Black

Sir James Whyte Black (1924—2010) was a Scot and graduate of St Andrews University. He trained as a physiologist and pharmacologist and established the department of physiology in the Glasgow University Veterinary School where he studied methods of protecting the heart from adrenaline-induced excessive stimulation. He moved to the drug firm Imperial Chemical Industry to expand this work and invented the beta blocker class of drugs which are now very widely used in cardiology and other branches of medicine. He then moved to the firm Smith Kline and French where he applied the same research techniques to develop drugs which blocked the H2 histamine receptor. These drugs block excess acid secretion in the stomach—the major cause of stomach ulcers—and revolutionised the treatment of stomach ulcers. Sir James Black was a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and an Honorary Fellow of the RSE. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1988, the Order of Merit in 2000, a Knighthood in 1981 and the RSE Royal Medal in 2001.


YearName(s)Institution Awarded
2024Professor Doreen Cantrell CBE FRS FRSE FMedSci University of DundeeFor their work on identifying multiple fundamentally important signal transduction pathways in T lymphocytes and pioneering contributions on the mechanisms controlling the function of these key immune cells. Her use of high-resolution mass spectrometry reveals dynamic proteome changes in T cells triggered by immune activation, exposure to inflammatory cytokines and different environmental stimuli.
2023No award made
2022No award made
2021Professor Andrew WatersWellcome Centre for Integrative Parasitology, University of GlasgowFor their long and distinguished service. His outputs have included world-leading research observations in tropical medicine and health in an illustrious academic career spanning more than four decades. He is a global authority in malaria research, a disease that remains one of the major threats to humankind.
2021Professor Roland WolfDirector of Strategic Development, University of DundeeFor their work in drug and chemical safety. He has been actively involved in the development of the life sciences and biotechnology, in Scotland and worldwide. He is a distinguished communicator, which he has used to enhance our understanding of science.
2020Professor Ian David DuncanUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonFor their work as a pioneer in transforming our understanding of remyelination and laid key foundations for treatments of myelin diseases. These include multiple sclerosis which affects around 1 in 500 people in the UK.
2019No award made.
2018Professor Michael HeathUniversity of StrathclydeFor their outstanding contribution to the field of Fisheries Science.
2017Professor Neil Gow FRS FRSEMRC Centre for Medical Mycology, Institute of Medical Sciences, University of AberdeenFor their outstanding contribution to the field of mycology through his groundbreaking research on fungi that are pathogenic to humans and major advances in this field.
2016Professor Thomas Simpson FRS FRSEAlfred Capper Pass Professor of Chemistry, School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, For their outstanding contribution to the biosynthesis of natural products as a pioneer in the interdisciplinary field of chemical biology.
2015Professor Iain McInnes FRSE FMedSciMuirhead Professor of Medicine and Director of the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, University of GlasgowFor their outstanding contribution to the field of immunology through his work in establishing the GLAZgo Discovery Centre which aims to create better medicines for patients.