Vane, John Robert (1927-) was a British biochemist and pharmacologist who shared the 1982 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Swedish scientists Sune Karl Bergstrom and Bengt Ingemar Samuelsson for his discoveries regarding prostaglandins.
Vane was born in Tardebigg, Worcestershire, England. He received bachelor's degrees in chemistry in 1946 from the University of Birmingham and in pharmacology in 1949 from Oxford University, where he also earned his Ph.D. degree in 1953. From 1953 to 1955, he taught at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. He then returned to England. From 1955 to 1973, he served at the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences of the Royal College of Surgeons, first as senior lecturer in pharmacology and later as professor of experimental pharmacology. There he began his work with prostaglandins .
Prostaglandins are hormonelike substances that affect and regulate many functions in the body. They were discovered in the 1930's, but it was unclear how they were produced and how they functioned. In the early 1960's, Vane developed the dynamic bioassay, which measures substances in blood or other body fluids. With this test, he proved that prostaglandins are produced by many tissues and organs, and that they are effective only in the areas where they are produced. In a 1971 experiment, Vane discovered that aspirin inhibits the production of prostaglandins that cause inflammation.
In 1973, Vane became director of research and development with the Wellcome Research Institute, a pharmaceutical company. Following up on research by Samuelsson, he discovered a prostaglandin called prostacyclin. It is used to dissolve clots that could cause strokes and heart attacks, and to inhibit blood clotting during surgery.
Vane was knighted in 1984. In 1986, he founded the William Harvey Research Institute to conduct research that would improve therapy in inflammatory, circulatory, and metabolic diseases. He died in Farnborough, England, on November 19, 2004.