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Professor Paul Spencer


Members of the School of Pharmacy were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Paul Spencer, OBE, who died peacefully after a long illness on 16 June 2012. Paul was Head of the School from 1978–97 and Pro-Vice Chancellor from 1994–98, retiring in 2002.

Over 30 years he taught hundreds of students and contributed his pharmacy and pharmacological skills to countless research projects. His friendly, fatherly and enthusiastic approach to academic and personal problems made him a sought-after figure not only for staff but also students in need of guidance or support, and his door was always open in this regard.

Brought up in the East Midlands, Paul studied pharmacy at Leicester Technical College (the forerunner of De Montfort University) where he graduated with a BPharm degree and went on to a preregistration training post at the Middlesex Hospital in London. He was then appointed as an assistant lecturer at the London School of Pharmacy (“The Square”) where he completed his PhD.

Subsequently, he became a principal pharmacologist at Allen & Hanburys (now part of GlaxoSmithKline) and then moved to the School of Pharmacy at Aston University as a senior lecturer then reader in pharmacology (1965–71). It was at this time that Paul developed an early interest in opioid and antidepressant pharmacology and he directed research projects and published in this field before moving to the Welsh School of Pharmacy as professor of applied pharmacology in 1971.

Seven years later, he was appointed Head of School, elected as a fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and then later awarded the higher doctorate of DSc in the University of Wales in 1986. Paul received an honorary DSc from De Montfort University in 1994 and was also Pro-Vice Chancellor at Cardiff University until 1998 during which time he was responsible for securing the Glamorgan building for the university from Mid Glamorgan County Council. At this time, he was also on the board of governors for the University of Wales, Newport.

During his career, Paul published over 250 research papers, abstracts and chapters in internationally recognised journals and books and played an influential role in pharmacy matters both locally and nationally. After his retirement in 2000, he maintained his input to pharmacy and continued his support for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, of which he became national treasurer and chairman of the board of trustees.

Paul was an outstanding person who not only had a significant input to the profession of pharmacy and the science of pharmacology but made an equally important contribution to the lives of his family, his professional colleagues, students and friends. He had a full life supported by a wonderful partner and delightful family. Our heartfelt sympathies go to his wife Avril, Isobel, Rosemary, Jonathan and their families.

Written by Professor Gary Baxter, originally appeared in the Pharmaceutical Journal.