Intended for healthcare professionals


Colin Dollery: clinical pharmacologist and moderniser, who embraced technology

BMJ 2021; 372 doi: (Published 01 March 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;372:n582
  1. Chris Mahony
  1. London, UK
  1. chris.mahony{at}

Colin Dollery, professor of clinical pharmacology and medicine and consultant clinical pharmacologist, who has died aged 89, endured “a dark night of the soul” before defying his father’s wishes to study medicine but was disdainful of the bowtie wearing Sir Lancelot Spratt imitators he believed dominated the profession.

By the mid-point of a career spanning six decades, Dollery could legitimately lay claim to having fathered clinical pharmacology as a subspecialty. By that point he had also played a key part in developing the drugs that transformed hypertension from a mass killer in the West to a condition routinely treated in primary care.

Pharmacology in clinical care

His career reflected a passion for “the science of medicine” and the central role of pharmacology in clinical care. As well as training and supporting a generation of future professors of clinical pharmacology and pharma industry leaders, Dollery was chair and then president of the International Union of Pharmacology and advised the UK government and the World Health Organization. He was a driving force behind the first world conference on clinical pharmacology in 1980.

The son of an Oxford educated chemistry teacher, Dollery moved from the grammar school in Lincoln where his father …

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