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Professor Bernard L. Ginsborg (1925-2018)

Professor Bernard L. Ginsborg was Head of the Department of Pharmacology at the University between 1980 and 1985, before retiring in 1990.

Professor Ginsborg contributed numerous significant discoveries to the field of pharmacology during a career spanning four decades.


Among many achievements, he overturned previously held theories of how vision works with his discovery of how flickering eye movements contribute to sight.

Working with Paul Fatt at University College London, he was the first to identify voltage-gated calcium currents, which play a major role in the function of cells, such as muscle contraction and neurotransmission.

At Edinburgh he extended our understanding in these areas still further, unravelling, for example, the mechanisms of calcium release from and the refilling of calcium stores within our cells, which are equally important to the coordination of cell function. 


Professor Ginsborg was born in London in 1925 and was trained as a physicist before taking a second degree in Physiology in 1952.

He joined the University in 1958, where he made seminal contributions to the field of pharmacology until his retirement in 1990. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1971.

A full version of his obituary is available: