RETIRED researcher Iain Glen is to receive a major accolade on Friday in the USA to recognise his achievement in discovering and developing one of the most commonly-used anaesthetics in the world.

Dr Glen, 77, from Knutsford, is to be presented with the 2018 Lasker-DeBakey Clinic Medical Research Award at a ceremony in New York.

Propofol is the most widely-used agent for inducing anaesthesia in patients throughout the world, and when, in 2016, the World Health Organisation deemed it an ‘essential medicine’ 190 million people had received it.

Dr Glen spent 13 years developing propofol, which received regulatory approval in the UK in 1986, and is now approved in more than 90 countries.

Propofol is administered more than 60 million times a year in the USA, where it was approved for use in 1989, and its milky colour has led anaesthesiologists to refer to it as ‘milk of amnesia’.

Dr Glen is due to receive his award at the Pierre Hotel, which overlooks Central Park, and will attend the ceremony with his wife Wendy, son Alasdair and daughter Fiona.

Dr Glen is a member of Knutsford Golf Club and Northwich Folk Club.

“I grew up on a small farm on the island of Arran in the Firth of Clyde, which looks across to the Mull of Kintyre,” said Dr Glen, whose first name is John, but who tends to be known as Iain because his father’s name was also John.

“The farm was too small for two careers, so I decided to leave the farm and go and study veterinary medicine.”

Dr Glen specialised in veterinary anaesthetics, which led him to a job at ICI Pharmaceuticals in 1972, which was later renamed AstraZeneca.

His responsibility was to look for new anaesthetic drugs, and because of his knowledge of animal anaesthetics his job was to search for new anaesthetics for people.

Five thousand compounds were tested, and propofol stood out because it didn’t accumulate in the body and recovery was quick in mice.

Dr Glen added: “The clear-headed recovery of propofol was something that really did stand out, and has been demonstrated in patients, who wake up remarkably clear-headed.”

It took 13 years to get propofol to market, and there were times when the drug almost failed, but Dr Glen remained determined to overcome the hurdles he encountered along the way.

He said: “I think it’s a drug hunter’s hunger that keeps you going, and if you see an outcome that is achievable find ways round and over the barriers.

“It’s a great honour to receive the award, and I am very much looking forward to meeting the other winners.”

Dr Glen acknowledged the support of his former colleagues at ICI and AstraZeneca, and thanked everyone who had offered their congratulations and best wishes on his award.

The Lasker Foundation’s mission is to improve health by accelerating support for medical research through recognition of research excellence, education and advocacy.

Lasker Awards recognise the contributions of researchers, clinician scientists and public servants who have made major advances in the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of disease.

“After working through several setbacks and complications to formulate the drug for human use, Dr Glen and his collaborators confirmed the safety and efficacy of the drug,” said a foundation spokesman.

“Now the standard drug for intravenous induction of anaesthesia, propofol has benefited millions of people.

“Propofol’s quick and safe recovery profile means that patients can return home soon after their procedures, allowing for a more comfortable recovery and significantly reduced healthcare costs.”