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Michael Rand

Published: 02 Jun 2016 in Pharmacology Hall of Fame

Elected in 2016

Born on 19 August 1927 in Mildenhall, UK
Died on 9 May 2002 in Victoria, Australia


  • Rand was the first to publish an account of serotonin’s pharmacological actions, following its identification as the substance released from platelets during the blood clotting process.
  • Having studied for his BSc in biological sciences and MSc in physiology at the University of Melbourne, he hadn’t planned further study in the sciences, but was moved by the early death of his supervisor George Reid (who died of malignant hypertension, now easily preventable with modern medicine). It was Reid’s death that fuelled his later interest in cardiovascular pharmacology.
  • He gained his doctorate from the University of Sydney in 1957and then secured an appointment at the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Oxford.
  • His work with J H Burn resulted in major advances in the understanding of autonomic neuro-effector function and influenced the development of new classes of therapeutically useful drugs, particularly for the treatment of hypertension. Together, they developed the ‘Burn-Rand hypothesis’, which was ultimately abandoned as a plausible concept, but which greatly advanced the understanding of autonomic neurotransmitter mechanisms.
  • In 1965, he took up the position as the inaugural Chair of Pharmacology at the University of Melbourne, which he would occupy for 27 years. During this time, he transformed his department to become one of great strength and influence in pharmacology around the world.
  • Seeing a need for a society that focused on pharmacology and clinical pharmacology, he and other pharmacologists from Australia and New Zealand, founded the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists (which would later become ASCEPT to include ‘Toxicologists’) in 1967. He was also a strong advocate for the International Union of Pharmacology (IUPHAR) and its World Congress.
  • He coined the term ‘nitrergic tranmission’ and, from his retirement to his final days, he was an international leader in this area.

Personal life

  • Rand was moved to Australia with his mother and siblings in 1941. He would later become an Australian citizen.  
  • He once said of his life, “Can anyone ask for more than to have as a job what one would willingly do as a hobby?”