Humphrey Rang pioneered the study of receptors for chemical transmitters that are also the sites of action of many drugs. By labelling the muscle poison atropine with radioactivity, Humphrey was the first researcher to measure its binding to acetylcholine receptors in isolated smooth muscle. He went on to develop new agents for labelling receptors, the use of which showed them to be membrane proteins made up of subunits.
This work led to an explosion of interest in receptors, many of which are now characterised in atomic detail. Humphrey’s name is familiar to generations of students for his textbook Rang & Dale’s Pharmacology (1987), and his book Drug Discovery and Development (2007) won the Royal Society of Medicine Library Prize for Medical Book of the Year.
Later in his career, Humphrey studied a variety of potential targets for new painkillers, leading to the identification of the ‘capsaicin receptor’ (now known as TRPV1), which opened a new chapter in pain research. His academic work led to an influential research leadership position in the pharmaceutical industry.
Interest and expertise
Anatomy, physiology and neurosciences
Drug discovery, Drug receptors, Cellular neuroscience