Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
John R. Vane
Born: 29 March 1927, Tardebigg, United Kingdom
Died: 19 November 2004, Farnborough, United Kingdom
Affiliation at the time of the award: The Wellcome Research Laboratories, Beckenham, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries concerning prostaglandins and related biologically active substances."
Prize share: 1/3
Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that govern several important processes in the body. They also come into play when the body is under attack. In 1971 John Vane showed that acetylsalicylic acid, a substance found in pain-relieving and fever-reducing medications like aspirin, works by inhibiting the formation of prostglandins. In 1976 he discovered the prostacyclin prostglandin, which expands the smallest blood vessels and, unlike certain other prostglandins, inhibits the formation of blood particles called platelets that cause blood to coagulate.