Prominent Nottingham scientists made honorary freemen

Sir Peter Mansfield Sir Peter Mansfield is one of several famous recipients, who also include Torvill and Dean

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Two prominent scientists who made groundbreaking discoveries while working in Nottingham are to be made honorary freemen of the city.

Dr Stewart Adams worked in the Boots Research Department, where he helped develop ibuprofen.

Sir Peter Mansfield is a Nobel-prize winning scientist whose work at The University of Nottingham led to the development of the MRI scanner.

The presentation will take place at the Council House on 8 July.

Surprised and delighted

Dr Adams was born in Northamptonshire but moved to Nottingham to study pharmacy at the University of Nottingham, then known as University College.

He graduated in 1945 and spent his career working for Boots, starting as a 16-year-old apprentice. In the 1950s he was the project leader on the team that discovered ibuprofen.

The invention of ibuprofen

Dr Adams with his team
  • Ibuprofen was originally known as 'Brufen'
  • Dr Adams began his work in a Victorian house in West Bridgford - Boots' research department having been partially destroyed during World War II bombing raids
  • He and a technician meticulously calculated the compounds that would form the drug before they were joined by an organic chemist - Dr John Nicholson - who made them
  • Ibuprofen was first marketed in 1969, with an over-the-counter version available from 1983

The invention arose out of a Boots study to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It soon evolved into a drug able to treat a range of conditions.

"We were convinced, on the basis of all the work we had done, that ibuprofen would be both safe and effective," Dr Adams recalls.

Dr Adams, now aged 90, lives near Arnold. He said he had been surprised and pleased at the council's decision to honour him.

"It came out of the blue," he said. "I think Sir Peter and myself are among the first scientists to be made freemen of the city, so it's a great honour.

"I think it's also important for Nottingham, as it hopes to be recognised as a city of science."

In 1987, Dr Adams received the OBE for his services to the drugs industry.

Sir Peter was a lecturer at the University in Nottingham, where his team developed MRI equipment.

Speaking last month, Sir Peter said he had initially considered testing the equipment with plants. "It was only when I realised it was going to be relatively easy to do imaging, I managed to get one of my students to put his finger in the machine."

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2003.

Other famous people to be made honorary freemen of Nottingham include Jesse Boot, Doug Scott, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, Brian Clough, Alan Sillitoe and Paul Smith.

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