Dr Brian Whittle MSc, PhD, B.Pharm – Absolutely A One Off
There are just a few times in life when you meet someone truly special. They say ‘empty vessels make most noise’ – well, if Brian was a vessel he would have been almost silent. Despite a busy workload, he agreed, with little arm twisting, to be an Expert Panellist for Jurby Wellness – for which I will always be grateful. Our more recent plans were to build something of value around Omega 3, ‘healthy fats’ particularly focussed on brain health supplements for the young.
That he was a Mentor to many was undoubted, but more than his Scientific brilliance was a kindness and humility rarely found in anyone. He could make the complex sound easy, to those of us with no formal training, save for an enquiring mind. He seamlessly joined the complex with the unconventional and was quick with a gentle smile to ensure that those he was mentoring were put most at ease.
He was not only a world renowned Scientist but also able to build teams, companies and life long loyalty from colleagues. His academic and Institutional accomplishments spanned the biotechnology sector, while he was best known as co-founder, along with Dr Geoffrey Guy, of GW Pharmaceuticals, the leading global innovators in medicinal cannabis.
As pioneers in the 1990’s they tried to educate Governments about the known (since Egyptian times) medicinal properties of natural botanicals – but in an era, far more recently, when political opposition against medicinal cannabis was the norm. During the late 1990’s and the decades since, countless clinical trials by GW slowly evidenced the benefits of medicinal cannabis. It was from that evidence base and a lessening of opposition, that sound science was able to establish the medicinal cannabis market for patient benefit. As a medicine it is now legal in 29 Countries and 27 US States, for which countless millions can be thankful. With our natural human cannabinoid receptors, medicinal cannabis is now credited with healing properties in over 30 different diseases from cancer to mental health. They say truth escapes slowly when vested interests are involved – but, often glossed over is the resolve of true pioneers who blaze the early, lonely, trails. Brian was just such a man, along with dedicated and determined colleagues, who was so able and born to lead.
Built on Solid Foundations
Prior to GW Pharmaceuticals, Brian Co-Founded Phytopharm serving as its Chief Executive from 1990 until 1994 and Chief Scientific Officer from 1994 until 1998. He also founded Brian Whittle Associates and was called upon to give valued advice across the bio-technology sector. Previously he held senior positions at Wyeth Europa Ltd, Reckitt and Colman plc, and ICI Pharmaceuticals.
The End of An Era
Brian passed away peacefully on the 3rd April 2018 after a short stay in a nursing home and his funeral will be on 20th April. A number of us, particularly those he mentored, will be meeting to celebrate his life. We will pledge to do ‘science of meaning’ in his memory – but whether we can pick up that baton to quite such a high standard only time will tell. We all salute a truly brilliant and gentle man.