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 can only be made by Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
  • Nominations can be made via the new online system through the member area.
  • Along with the nomination form you are required to upload a CV and publication list for the candidate as well as two references.
  • Full guidance notes can be found in the member area.
  • RSE Medals Referee Form

ABOUT Sir James Black

Sir James Black (1924–2010) was a Scottish doctor and pharmacologist. He established the physiology department at the University of Glasgow, where he became interested in the effects of adrenaline on the human heart. In 1958 he went to work for ICI Pharmaceuticals where he developed two blockbuster drugs in different fields. Firstly, the renowned “β-blocker” drugs which changed cardiovascular therapeutics beyond recognition. He also had great success in another therapeutic area with the development of cimetidine, which selectively blocks the effects of histamine on the stomach and heart with minimal toxicity. The design of these histamine H2 receptor blockers revolutionised the therapy of the peptic ulcer. Sir James Black was a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (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
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.