I am writing on behalf of the Welsh School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Cardiff University, to pay tribute to Professor Paul Nicholls who died on 27 January 2018. Paul served the school for 42 years (1960–2002) and did so much to lay the foundations for its current success. All of Paul’s students and colleagues were proud to have been associated with him. He showed faith in people, he was immensely supportive in guiding careers, he was a role model on how one can be respectful, kind and caring to others, while professionally remaining hugely effective and held in high esteem.
After studying biochemistry at the University of Birmingham (graduating 1956, 1st class honours), Paul returned to the city of his birth to undertake a PhD in pharmacology at the Welsh National School of Medicine (WNSM) in Cardiff. Following his PhD, he undertook a Medical Research Council postdoctoral fellowship (WNSM, 1959) before taking up a lectureship in 1960 in the Welsh School of Pharmacy at the then Welsh College of Advanced Technology. Under his guidance, he launched the Department of Applied Pharmacology and shaped its future expansion and success.
Paul was a dedicated university teacher who inspired many thousands of pharmacy students with his passion and enthusiasm. He was a prolific researcher and published more than 400 research papers and supervised nearly 100 PhD students. His contribution to pharmacology research was recognised with a DSc in 1996. Although not a pharmacist, he was highly pharmacy-orientated and was particularly proud when he was made an Honorary Member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in 1992. He was science chairman at the Society’s annual conference held in Scarborough in 1997. He was deputy head of the Welsh School of Pharmacy from 1997 until his retirement in 2002, when the title emeritus professor was conferred upon him.
He was an accomplished musician and talented organist. It was probably unknown to most of the pharmacy graduates who received their degrees on Cardiff’s Graduation Day, that Professor Nicholls was playing the organ at the time. Following retirement, he focused his attentions on composing organ music and writing poetry.
To Paul’s wife, Rosemary and their two daughters, Marianne and Suzanne, both of whom are pharmacists, the school wishes you to know that it will never forget Paul’s immense contributions and humanity.