Skip to main content

Vane, John R(obert) 1927-2004

VANE, John R(obert) 1927-2004

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born March 29, 1927, in Tardebigge, Worcestershire, England; died of complications from bone fractures November 19, 2004, in Farnborough, England. Pharmacologist, educator, and author. Vane was a Nobel Prize-winning pharmacologist most noted for his discovery of how aspirin works, which in turn led to more uses for the popular drug, as well as to the development of other medications. As a child, Vane fell in love with experimentation, spending many hours playing with a chemistry set his parents had given him. However, when he started attending the University of Birmingham, he found he did not like chemistry, just experimentation. After graduating with a B.S. in 1946, a professor suggested he take up pharmacology. At the time, Vane was not sure what that was, but he accepted the proposal and enrolled at Oxford University, where, discovering his aptitude for pharmacology, he received a B.S. in 1949 and a Ph.D. in 1953. He then taught for two years at Yale University and for six years at the Institute of Basic Medical Science at the Royal College of Surgeons. During the early 1960s, he was a reader at London University, and from 1966 to 1973 he was a professor of experimental pharmacology there. Despite advice against it from his friends, Vane left academia for a job in private industry with the Wellcome Foundation in 1973. It was during this period that he made his discovery of prostacyclin, a type of prostaglandin that is responsible for generating fever and pain when a body is sick or in trauma. Vane also learned that aspirin works by blocking cyclooxygenase, which in turn stops the production of prostaglandins, thus reducing fever, swelling, and pain. This work led to his being the co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1982. Vane's discovery also led to the creation of a variety of pain-relief medicines categorized as COX-2 drugs, such as Vioxx, and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which are used to treat circulatory and heart problems. Vane was the author or editor of numerous books on pharmacology, including Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (1979), Perspectives in Prostaglandin Research (1983), and Selective COX-2 Inhibitors: Pharmacology, Clinical Effects, and Therapeutic Potential (1998).



Chicago Tribune, November 23, 2004, section 3, p. 12.

New York Times, November 23, 2004, p. C17.

Times, November 25, 2004, p. 71.

Washington Post, November 24, 2004, p. B7.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Vane, John R(obert) 1927-2004." Contemporary Authors. . 21 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Vane, John R(obert) 1927-2004." Contemporary Authors. . (April 21, 2019).

"Vane, John R(obert) 1927-2004." Contemporary Authors. . Retrieved April 21, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.