Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Man Who Saved Millions

2008 - The only video on Youtube about Sir James

Sir James Black, recipient of the Nobel Prize, died yesterday aged 85. Most of the MSM decided to pay hours of tributes to Harry Carpenter, the BBC sports commentator.

Yet Sir James Black has touched and saved the lives of millions throughout the world. Who was he?

He was born in Cowdenbeath in 1924 and was the fourth of five boys brought up in a Baptist home. His father was a mining engineer and colliery manager so they weren't poor. He admits to daydreaming through his formal schooling but a maths teacher, Dr Watson of Beath High School, was his mentor who was the negotiator of his scholarship to St Andrews.

His subject of choice was medicine. His biography states he 'slowly learned, like a primitive painter, how to be an effective experimenter' and pays much credit to his fellow scientists.

Sir James was Chancellor of Dundee University from 1992 to 2006 and in honour of his work the university built the Sir James Black Centre, a research facility for the investigation of cancer, tropical diseases and diabetes.

In the medical world he is perhaps one of the top three scientists who humans should thank for saving lives. His introduction of beta-blockers to those suffering from angina or heart problems have saved millions of lives, including some of my own family.

He also developed a drug treatment for stomach and duodenal ulcers. The previous treatment was horrendous and operations were mainly unsuccessful.

However, Sir James has been also credited with being the founder of 'big pharma' because his medical treatment involved the production of billions of pills. 'Certainly no man on earth earned more for the international pharmaceutical industry'. He transformed the pharmaceutical industry from one of secrecy to one which worked upon precise biochemical specifications.

While I am suspicious about many medications given to us, I cannot criticise Sir James' treatment for heart problems and stomach ulcers. We have more effective beta-blockers today which save even more lives and that's down to the work of this unassuming, day-dreaming Scot.

I started this post yesterday but realised it would be lost because the MSM were concentrating on Harry Carpenter. This morning I notice Kenneth Roy has written an excellent tribute to the man he knew. I quote from an interview Sir James gave Ken. It took part in front of an audience and this was a question from one of them:

Q Do you think that today's men and women aspire to idealism as much as they used to? The young don't appear to be as interested in great causes.

A You haven't been listening to them.

My sincere thanks to the gentleman who has saved and will continue to save the lives of so many.

Note: The video sound isn't too good so turn up your speakers a little.


TheBigYin said...

God knows that Big Pharma is a bane in my life at the moment but I do recognise Drs. like Sir James who have made a massive contribution to the quality of all our lives.

Rest in peace Sir James, the MSM may have overlooked you but us 'ordinary' punters your life saving drugs have helped will not.

subrosa said...

There's a lot wrong with Big Pharma these days BigYin but beta-blockers aren't one of them.

Nowadays the testing quality isn't the same I'm told, especially certain medications taken in conjunction with others.

Glad to know this man helped you.

scunnert said...

Who the hell was Harry Carpenter? Never heard of him.

When I was a kid at Uni one of my profs gave us a quiz. He read out the names of folks and we had to identify who they were and what they did. After we had completed the quiz he separated the names into categories:

1 - those who had influenced world events politically

2 - those who had contributed to human advancement in science

3 - those who had contributed to human culture in the arts

4 - pop celebrities of the present

5 - pop celebrities of the past

Most recognised and were able to identify all the names from category four. No one was able to identify any of the names from category five. A few were able to identify some of the names from the other three categories. What does that tell you about those tasked with educating our children and providing information to society?

Our knowledge of who we are and what we are doing is superficial and transitory. Dancing with the Stars and American Idol takes centre stage while the EuroMed Agreement and its implications are largely ignored. More people know who Susan Boyle is than know that Gamal Abdel Nasser single handedly destroyed any lingering delusions that Great Briton was anything other than a second rate power.

The contributions of folks like Jimmy Black will never percolate through the miasma of popular culture into people's consciousness. We prefer the Cult of Personality.

subrosa said...

Harry Carpenter was a BBC Sports commentator scunnert and he mainly commentated on boxing.

That's true. The celeb culture is what this country is all about. People who make a great deal of money starving themselves and have little or no talent or personality.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"a maths teacher, Dr Watson of Beath High School, was his mentor who was the negotiator of his scholarship to St Andrews."


I wonder how many boys of like potential* get that sort of help now in whatever Beath High School has become, and how much they - and we - are losing as a result.

* recognising of course that Sir James was exceptional on any measure

Clarinda said...

Just to mention two - Paris and Madrid - where small groups of well-behaved school-children actually manage to be interested as guided around chosen works of art by teachers who appear well able to discuss culture and celebrate the artists.

In Madrid, groups of pre-schoolers sitting on the floor, under some colourful painting, listening avidly to a teacher asking questions and telling stories about it - were a pleasure to be around.

Many Europeans especially the French have a close, respectful and on-going interest in their past and, vitally, their current writers, philosophers, artists and scientists. They aspire to sustaining their countryside and it's life-style which they regard as superior to urban culture.

An interesting 'compare and contrast' exercise with our own shallow, passing and marginal knowledge and understanding of our culture and nation. Patchy at best.
We still suffer from an anti-intellectualism and anti-excellence unless it is degraded by the PC vice of 'inclusive' mediocrity devoid of ambition and respect for real achievement.

subrosa said...

He said in his biography that he daydreamed through school so I suspect he was clever. Saying that, there were quite a few in my day at school who did that too. My brother being one of them.

Surely there must be the odd teacher who motivates enough WY. Surely..

subrosa said...

Clarinda, we are now a celeb culture and most celebs wouldn't know who Casals or Joan Sutherland.

Schools are too busy giving sex lessons and 'equality and diversity' brainwashing.

For the first time since refurbishment I visited Dundee museum last week and they've made a good job. Thankfully the place wasn't closed because that was on the cards at one time.

The state education system needs to aim higher Clarinda, much higher.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

In this world there are many servants who ride horses while prince's walk.

It seems James Black was quite happy to be a hiker and leave the riding to the pharma bandits.

Appreciate the blog Rosa and the reference to Kenneth Roy - from what I've read his Scottish Review would be a worth addition to you blog roll?

subrosa said...

RA,the Scottish Review isn't accepted as a blog on my blogroll but I've placed it there just for you. It will always be at the bottom though because updates will not be picked up. I think that's because it's a website not a blog.

You can receive SR by email RA, that's the method I use.

subrosa said...

RA as a luddite myself I appreciate your modesty.

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