Chemistry and Physics

A Tribute to Dr Stewart Adams

Dr Stewart Adams, the pioneering pharmacologist credited for the discovery and development of ibuprofen used by millions worldwide, has died aged 95. As a University of Nottingham alumnus, Dr Stewart’s work is tantamount to how work done locally can see a far-reaching impact.

Despite the global success of his drug, which is now commonly marketed as Nurofen, Dr Adams came from a very modest background, being born in Byfield, Northamptonshire and leaving school at the age of 17 after which he had a endeavoured in a retail pharmacist role. It wasn’t for after a few years in the retail arm of Boots did Dr Adams later settle on a three-year scientific apprenticeship that saw him completing a degree in Pharmacy.

“how work done locally can see a far-reaching impact”

Like Dr Adam’s own personal story, the story of the ibuprofen is not a straightforward or easy one. It took almost 7 years for his discovery to be allowed to be sold as a prescription drug and another 14 years for this drug to be allowed to be sold over the counter in the UK; with trials and fails of several similar compounds in the process.

During a 2013 interview with the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Edwin Silvester, Dr Adams acknowledged that despite there being two other research groups in search of this drug, it was he and his partner John Nicholson’s drug 2-(4-isobutylphenyl) propionic acid that saw clinical approval first.

Originally marketed as Brufen, the drug ibuprofen has seen Dr Adams awarded an OBE for his work in 1987. As recently as 2013, Dr Adams was presented with the Chemical Landmark award on Pennyfoot Street, Nottingham where a lot of his research was conducted. Indeed, the influence Ibuprofen has had on the landscape of the pharmaceutics has made Dr Adams well-deserving of any accolades he received throughout his life.

“integral part of the household medical cupboard”

Contrary to Dr Adams’ humble response that ‘he doesn’t really think’ about the success of his drug, ibuprofen is undeniably an integral part of the household medical cupboard, being listed on the World Health Organisation’s list of essential medicines. From pain-relief to anti- inflammatory effects of ibuprofen, we must thank Dr Adams’ for his contribution to not only science, but society. We can only hope that similar ingenuity in the near future will bring us drugs with comparable results for today’s modern health issues.

Oliver Ekwalla

Articles Used: [ ]


[ ]



Featured image courtesy of Jason Rogers via Flickr. No changes were made to this image. Image license found here.

If you would like to write Science articles for Impact Lifestyle drop us an email at

Follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved.

Chemistry and PhysicsHumans and HealthLifestyleScience

Leave a Reply