History and former Chairs
Our Department is as old as McGill University and its Faculty of Medicine. At its founding in 1824, there were five Professors of the Faculty. One of them was Dr. Andrew F. Holmes who was also the first Chairman (1824 – 1838) of this Department, known at that time as the Discipline of Chemistry, Pharmacy and Materia Medica. The current name, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, was adopted in 1887, during the chairmanship of Dr. James Stewart (1883-1891).
Originally, the Department was located in the lower campus in the building now known as the F. Cyril James Administration Building. It moved to the newly constructed McIntyre Medical Sciences Building in 1965.
During the past decade, the Department has enjoyed a further phase of expansion. The number of undergraduate courses was increased and a Minor in Pharmacology was initiated in 1997. A full undergraduate program with Major and Honours degrees started in 2009.
Dr. Andrew F. Holmes, M.D., LL.D. (1824-1835)
One of the four founding Professors of McGill Medical Institution, the first Dean of the Faculty of Medicine. The Holmes Gold Medal for the highest standing in medical course was instituted in his honour in 1865.
Dr. Archibald Hall, M.D., L.R.C.S.E. (1835-1842) and (1849-1854)
Professor of Midwifery and the Diseases of Women and Children and Honorary Fellow of the Obstetrical Society of london. An ardent naturalist with publications in this area of interest.
Dr. Stephen C. Sewell, M.D. (1842-1849)
Chairman of Clinical Medicine from 1850-1856. Authored several papers. His papaer "New and important therapeutic uses of Nux vomica" (1864) is the first research paper from this Department.
Dr. William Wright, M.D. (1854-1883)
Well known pharmacologist who published several papers including a detailed paper "Calabar Bean" in 1868 merely five years after the introduction of its active ingredient, physostigmine, into medicine.
Dr. James Stewart, M.D. (1883-1891)
Also Registrar of the Faculty. During his chairmanship the name "Pharmacology and Therapeutics" was adopted, for the first time in North America.
Dr. Alexander Dougall Blackader, M.D. (1891-1921)
One of Canada's foremost physicians and a pioneer in children's diseases. The first President of the Canadian Society for the Study of Diseases of Children and an early president of the American Pediatric Society. Honorary Member of the British Pediatric Association and a close friend of Sir William Osler.
Dr. Henry Gray Barbour, M.D. (1921-1924)
Previously worked at the University College London and moved to Yale University in 1924. The only pharmacologist to be acknowledged by Goodman & Gilman in the first edition of their textbook. Authored several papers and the book "Experimental Pharmacology and Toxicology" Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia, 1932.
Dr. Raymond L. Stehle, M.D. (1924-1953)
Also Honorary Medical Librarian. One of the first biochemical pharmacologists in Canada, published several papers in Journal of Biological Chemistry prior to coming to this Department iin 1921 from the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Kenneth I. Melville, M.D., McGill, 1926, M.Sc. (1953-1967)
A Holmes Gold Medallist and an active pharmacologist until his death in 1975. Among the first to show that adrenaline is not a sympathetic neurotransmitter. Honoured as Professor Emeritus after retirement.
Dr. Mark Nickerson, M.D. Ph.D. (1967-1975)
Internationally recognized for his discovery of non-competitive antagonistic activities of phenoxybenzamine, the concept of "spare receptors" and the deleterious effects of vasoconstrictors in haemorrhagic shock. First Canadian pharmacologist to be elected President (1975-1976) of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. Appointed Professor Emeritus after retirement.
Dr. John Ruedy, M.D., F.R.C.P. (C) (1975-1978)
Professor of Medicine and an excellent lecturer. Established the Clinical Pharmacology Unit at Montreal General Hospital.
Dr. Richard I. Ogilvie, M.D., F.R.C.P. (C) (1978-1983)
Also head of the Clinical Pharmacology Unit at Montreal General Hospital. A researcher in both clinical and basic pharmacology. Recognized for his work on vascular effects of loop diuretics and aminophylline dosing.
Dr. Brian Collier, Ph.D. (1983-1985)
Dr. A. Claudio Cuello, M.D., D.Sc., F.R.C.P. (1985-2000)
Has carried out fundamental neuropharmacological studies of neurotransmitters. His pioneering work helped confirm the dendritic release of neurotransmitters, and helped establish the application of monoclonal antibodies to neuroscience research, the localization and function of substance P, the role of endogenous peptides and pharmacological approaches to neural repair.
Dr. Radan Čapek, M.D., Ph.D. (2000-2002)
Dr. Hans H. Zingg, M.D., Ph.D. (2002-2011)
Physician-scientist and molecular biologist, recognized for fundamental studies on the molecular mechanisms of oxytocin and oxytocin receptor gene expression and mechanisms of intracellular signaling. Under his Chairmanship, the Department underwent an important expansion, established a CFI-funded high content screening core facility and initiated a Pharmacology Major/Honors program.