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Eleanor Zaimis

Published: 19 Nov 2015 in Pharmacology Hall of Fame

Elected in 2015

Born on 16 June 1914 in Galati, Romania
Died on 3 October 1982 in Athens, Greece


  • Eleanor — Nora to her friends — made substantial contributions in neuromuscular and cardiovascular pharmacology, and her work led to the development of methonium compounds and the discoveries of pentamethonium and hexamethonium that lowered blood pressure and decamethonium, the first synthetic neuromuscular blocker, for which she received the Lasker Award
  • She was educated at the Greek Gymnasium and graduated in medicine at the University of Athens and came to England in 1947 as a British Council scholar. After working briefly as a research assistant in the department of pharmacology at Bristol University and later at the National Institute for Medical, she moved to the department of pharmacology at the school of pharmacy, London University
  • She was awarded Professor of Pharmacology at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine in 1958 and remained Head of the Pharmacology Department until her retirement in 1980
  • Her experimental procedures were models of design and planning, She was one of the first to emphasize the importance of studying the chronic effects of low doses of drugs, as well as acute effects
  • Of the many international awards she received in recognition of her research, the two she valued most were Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians in 1974 and her Honorary Fellowship of the Faculty of Anaesthetists in 1979. She was jointly awarded the Cameron Prize in 1956 and the Gairdner Foundation International Award for her work on methonium compounds with Paton

Personal life

  • Those who knew her described Nora as a lively, lovely, generous, and fascinating person who loved the country she adopted and its people
  • Nora adopted British nationality in 1954, but did not forget her Greek roots: she was an active member of a committee setup to advise on university development in Greece
  • One of her students commented that her ‘enthusiasm for the elucidation of pharmacological mechanisms was infectious’