The John Vane Academy

The John Vane Academy


Our philosophy and aims

Simply learning about science is not sufficient to become a good investigator.

Sir John Vane (Nobel Laureate, Physiology & Medicine, 1982), FRS, founder of the William Harvey Research Institute (WHRI) and its charitable arm the William Harvey Research Foundation (WHRF), made important contributions to many fields of research, with a focus on addressing unmet medical needs through therapeutic innovation (see John Vane’s legacy below). He believed that a sound scientific ‘apprenticeship’ would enable his students to do likewise and so, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the creation of WHRF, the Trustees of the Foundation are launching a new flagship programme called The John Vane Academy. 

Supported by Prof. Sir Mark Caulfield, the academy will provide bursaries and funds to train postgraduate students and early-career researchers within the WHRI, using John’s style of tutoring, which has been continued by his many colleagues who still work there. The chosen students will be eligible to apply for travel and training grants to develop their own expertise or to learn new techniques.

One of the topics our panel will be seeking to encourage is ‘inflammageing’, a new and fascinating research topic that investigates the connection between the ageing process and the activity of the immune system.  Research proposals are externally peer-reviewed by a panel of distinguished referees.  

The Academy’s cohort of students builds on a substantial track record. Over the last 7 years:

£4.16m from the private-hospital sector has allowed the WHRF’s trading subsidiary, WHR Ltd, to support the training of 13 early-career clinical scientists to PhD level;
A further 4 PhDs have been funded by external partners via the Centre for Inflammation and Therapeutic Innovation at a cost of £467K;
The WHRF has awarded grants to WHRI, including 2 PhDs and 1 post-doctoral fellow, totalling £380k.
Our collaborative approach, working with other partners to leverage funds from third parties, is designed to fund training programmes for young scientists, as a fitting legacy in Sir John’s name to mark both the 30th anniversary of the WHRF (in 2020) and the 50th anniversary (in 2021) of his seminal paper on aspirin (see below).


Who was John Vane?

John Vane (1927-2004) was a British pharmacologist whose research led to the production of several life-saving drugs. Throughout his distinguished career John held important posts in academia and industry, and he was awarded many prizes for his research, including the Lasker Award in 1977 and the Nobel Prize in 1982. He was knighted for his contributions to science in 1984.


What is John Vane’s legacy?

John made several seminal contributions to medical research.  He solved a decades-old mystery by discovering how aspirin and similar drugs produce their effects. This led to the development of better anti-inflammatory drugs, and to the use of aspirin to prevent thrombosis, which has benefitted millions of people throughout the world.  With his colleagues, he also made important discoveries about how blood-pressure-regulating hormones are controlled, resulting in the development of new and better agents to treat high blood pressure. His research group also discovered a new hormone that prevented platelet aggregation and dilated blood vessels, and chemical analogues of this are used to treat the dangerous disease, pulmonary hypertension. Following John’s death in 2004, his widow, Lady Daphne Vane took a keen interest in perpetuating his work and, until her death in 2021, continued to support the various activities organised by the WHRF.

In 1986, John moved to (what was then) St Bartholomew’s Hospital medical school and established the WHRI, in honour of the Barts physician who had discovered the circulation of blood in the 17th century. In 1990 John, together with some colleagues, changed the legal status of the Institute to that of an independent medical research institute on the Bart’s campus and created an associated charity, the WHRF, to fund medical research.  In due course, the WHRI was assimilated into the academic structure of the medical school (now the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen Mary University of London: FMD). 

During the course of his career, John trained numerous students, many of whom have gone on to achieve distinction in their own right.  John’s laboratories had a strong international flavour: students and established researchers came from all over the world to spend time in his laboratory, and this eclectic, international approach is perpetuated in the WHRI, which currently has around 50 nationalities represented on its staff. Consequently, John’s approach to research continues to spread around the world.

The WHRI is now one of the largest and most successful pharmacological research institutes in the world, consistently highly-ranked worldwide in regards to its research, publications and citations.


For more information on the William Harvey Research Institute, please visit the WHRI website:

About Us



The John Vane Academy has launched two new bursary schemes aimed at early career researchers:  The John Vane Bursary Scheme and the Daphne Vane Media Training Bursary Scheme. 

Please follow the below link for more details including eligibility and application processes.


Grants & Bursary Schemes


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