John Morton Midgley (1937–2022)

On 3 August 2022, John Midgley FPharmS, aged 85 years, of Hyde, Greater Manchester. Mr Midgley OBE was a former member of the council of the Society. 


John was one of these rare individuals who excelled in both pharmacy and chemistry and who was able to utilise his expertise in these disciplines in the education of undergraduate and postgraduate students of pharmacy and medicinal chemistry. Outside of academia, he played a huge role in pharmaceutical regulatory affairs both nationally and internationally for 40 years.

John graduated with a first class honours BSc degree in Pharmacy and Chemistry in 1959 and MSc in Medicinal Chemistry in 1961 from the University of Manchester, followed by a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry from the School of Pharmacy, London, in 1965.

During his early academic career at the School of Pharmacy, University of London (1962–1983) John rose from assistant lecturer to senior lecturer.

His academic career continued at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, with his appointment as professor of pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry in 1984 and as chair and head of the Department of Pharmacy in 1985.

On his retirement in 2001, he became research professor and emeritus professor of pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry. John’s academic reputation was further recognised by appointments to visiting and honorary professorships in Europe, India, China and the United States.

During his academic career, John was the author of more than 150 scientific publications on various aspects of pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry and related subjects. In 2002, his contributions to academic pharmacy were recognised by the award of Fellowship of the School of Pharmacy, University of London.

His contributions to pharmaceutical sciences and to pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry were also recognised by his award of FRPharmS in 1984 and Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) in 1988.

John skilfully combined his academic career with public service as an expert and advisor in government regulatory affairs. His appointments to national and international regulatory committees, which are too numerous to list in detail, included membership of the British Pharmacopoeia Commission for over 20 years until 2005 and membership of the (then) Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) for 11 years until 2002.

He was also a member (1990–1998) and chair (1998–2002) of the chemistry, pharmacy and standards sub-committee of the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM, now the Commission on Human Medicines). The CSM advised the health ministers and the licensing authority on matters relating to human medicinal products, including giving advice on the safety, quality, and efficacy of human medicinal products. 

At the international level, John was a member/alternate member of the UK Delegation to the European Pharmacopoeia Commission (EPC) in Strasbourg and served as member and chair of various groups of experts and working parties of the EPC, including chair of the Group of Experts 10A (Synthetic Organic Chemistry) from 2001 to 2007, and chair of the Mesilate Working Party from 2008 to 2019.

In 1998, John was awarded the OBE for contributions to regulatory medicine and the British Pharmacopoeia Commission. 

John also had a successful career as scientific and regulatory consultant to the pharmaceutical and chemical industry throughout the UK, Europe, United States and Japan, which allowed him to enjoy one of his passions — travelling.

As a young lecturer in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde, I first met John on his appointment as professor in 1984 and he was my ‘boss’ for six years. Later, our close collaboration with the regulatory committees (Chemistry, Pharmacy and Standards Sub-committee of CSM, British Pharmacopoeia Commission and European Pharmacopoeia Commission) allowed me to appreciate how John’s knowledge of pharmacy and chemistry, together with his excellent communication skills, contributed enormously to the quality standards we have today for medicinal substances and medicinal products. John’s sterling work in this area undoubtedly improved patient safety and public health.

Outside of academia and regulatory affairs, John had many hobbies including gardening, music and sport. He particularly enjoyed fishing, golf and football. In his youth, he had captained the Manchester United first team following the Munich disaster in 1958.

Above all else, John was a devoted family man who had the loving support of his wife Jean for 57 years and sons Duncan and Mark, and he was particularly proud of the achievements of his five grandchildren.

I am proud to have been John’s friend and professional colleague for almost 40 years.

Alastair Davidson

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, October 2022, Vol 309, No 7966;309(7966)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2022.1.161900

    Please leave a comment 

    You may also be interested in