C. Robin Ganellin, Ph.D., DSc, FRS


Dr. C. Robin Ganellin was born in London, UK, and received a first class BSc in chemistry from Queen Mary College, University of London, and a PhD in 1958 in organic chemistry with Prof. Michael Dewar for research on tropylium chemistry. During this time he also collaborated with Dr. Rowland Pettit and discovered the oxidative rearrangement of cyclooctatetraene to the tropylium cation. He was a Research Associate in 1960 with Prof. A.C. Cope at MIT, where he devised the first direct optical resolution of chiral olefins using platinum complexes.

He joined Smith Kline & French Laboratories (SK&F) in the UK in 1958 as a medicinal chemist, and from 1966 collaborated with Sir James Black and led the chemical research for the discovery of the H2-receptor histamine antagonists. He was particularly involved in applying principles of physical-organic chemistry to structure-activity analysis. He is coinventor of the drug cimetidine (Tagamet®) which revolutionised the treatment of peptic ulcer disease. He also directed the design of other histamine receptor ligands such as oxmetidine, lupitidine, donetidine, icotidine, zolantidine and temelastine. He was instrumental in establishing the use of the agonists dimaprit and impromidine, and identified compounds for use as chemical controls in histamine pharmacology. He subsequently became Vice-President for Research at the company's Welwyn facility.

In 1986 he was awarded a DSc from London University for his published work on the medicinal chemistry of histamine and drugs acting at histamine receptors and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1986 he left SK&F and was appointed to the SK&F Chair of Medicinal Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at University College London (UCL), where he is now Emeritus Professor of Medicinal Chemistry. At UCL his research group have synthesized novel ligands for histamine H3 receptors and he designed the first potent non-imidazole H3-receptor antagonist; He also designed butabindide the first inhibitor of the cholecystokinin-8 inactivating peptidase (tripeptidylpeptidase II). His research has also led to potent blockers (eg UCL 1684, UCL 1848) of the SKCa channel and to ligands for IKCa and BKCa channels. More recently his research has been on Transport-P. He is author or co-author of over 260 scientific publications, has edited 7 books, and is named coinventor on over 160 US patents.

Ganellin has received various international honors, including the UK Royal Society of Chemistry Award for Medicinal Chemistry (1977), their Tilden Medal and Lectureship (1982) and their Adrien Albert Medal and Lectureship (1999), Le Prix Charles Mentzer de France (1978), the ACS Division of Medicinal Chemistry Award (1980), the Society of Chemical Industry Messel Medal (1988), and the Society for Drug Research Award for Drug Discovery (1989). He has also been inducted into the US National Inventors Hall of Fame (1990). He was elected as a Fellow of Queen Mary and Westfield College, London University, (1992) and awarded an Honorary DSc by Aston University in 1995. He received the Nauta Prize on Pharmacochemistry from the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry (2004), the Pratesi Gold Medal from the Med. Chem. Division of the Societa Chimica Italiana (2006) and was appointed Corresponding Academician to the National Royal Academy of Pharmacy, Spain (2006).

Robin Ganellin belongs to 9 scientific societies (ACS since 1966) and has served on 16 editorial boards or journal advisory committees. He has been visiting Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Kent at Canterbury (1979-89), Advisory Tutor in Chemistry at the Polytechnic of North London (1979-83) and Director of the Upjohn Discovery Unit at UCL (1987-94). He initiated the biennial RSC Summer School in Medicinal Chemistry in 1981 in the format that exists to date and, indeed, is still lecturing on them. He was a member of the IUPHAR Committee for Receptor Nomenclature and Drug Classification (1990-1998). He is a past Chairman of the Society for Drug Research (1985-87), was President of the Medicinal Chemistry Section of IUPAC (1999-2001), and since 2002 has been Chair of the IUPAC Subcommittee on Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Development.