The William Harvey Research Institute

The William Harvey Research Institute was founded by the Nobel Laureate Sir John Vane, FRS in 1985. It was established at St. Bartholomew's Hospital with initial financial support from Glaxo. Sir David Jack, former head of Glaxo, was the first Chairman of the Trustees of the William Harvey Research Institute (1995-2000). Pharmaceutical companies from Europe, USA and Japan have funded major research programmes, and the Institute is now world-renowned as a centre of excellence for cardiovascular and inflammation research. In 1996, the Institute became part of Barts and the Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry (Queen Mary University).

Today, the William Harvey Research Institute has more than 350 researchers and is one of the leading centres for pharmacological research in the United Kingdom. Several senior scientists within the Institute are among the 100-leading pharmacologists in the World (see and the Institute is ranked among the Top 20 Pharmacological Research institutions (based on citations) in the World (according to The Scientist, 2004).


Research Centres

The William Harvey Research Institute has the following Research Centres.

  • Biochemical Pharmacology
  • Bone and Joint Research Unit
  • Cardiac, Vascular and Inflammation Research
  • Clinical Pharmacology
  • Translational Medicine and Therapeutics
  • Experimental Therapeutics
  • Clinical and Molecular Endocrinology
  • Genome Centre



research models

About William Harvey

William Harvey was born at Folkestone and went to school in Canterbury. He was a student at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge (1593 - 1597), and qualified in medicine at Padua, Italy (1600 - 1602). He returned to England to practice medicine and became a Fellow of the College of Physicians in 1607. Two years later he was appointed Physician to St. Bartholomew's Hospital - a position he held until c.1644. Harvey's reputation as a leading light in the medical world was swiftly established, and from 1615 to 1656 he was a key figure in training physicians of the day as the Lumleian lecturer of the College of Physicians. In 1618, as a mark of great esteem, he was appointed Physician Extraordinary to the King James I. He was later Physician to King Charles I.

While in Padua, Harvey learnt to study nature and medicine through a new logical approach that related the structure of organs to their function. This training set him at the forefront of learned medicine. Despite his many responsibilities as Physician at St. Bartholomew's Hospital he continued these investigations. Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood was described in his classic work of 1628 "Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus" (The motion of the heart and blood in animals). For his work Harvey has been credited as the founder of experimental medicine.

Almost four hundred years later, research into the regulation of the circulation and the local mechanisms controlling blood vessels still represents one of the most important efforts to identify new medicines to prevent heart disease, and to treat rheumatoid arthritis, or the many complications of diabetes.

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