The Department in the 1980s
The research activities of an already productive Department were greatly strengthened with the appointment of Graham Johnston to the Chair of Pharmacology that had been vacant since Thorp's retirement. Johnston, a chemistry graduate from the University of Sydney brought very significant research experience in medicinal chemistry and expanded the Department's research activity and interest in central nervous system pharmacology.
Research in respiratory pharmacology and mediators of inflammation was strengthened, and also its clinical applications. The Department succeeded in attracting much new research funding, particularly from government sources but also from other grant-giving sources, and a significant number of collaborative research projects with industry and other institutions have been established. The number and quality of senior research personnel in the department has greatly benefited both research and teaching, although the expansion in personnel and research activity has placed considerable strain on laboratory space and other facilities.
John Shaw was Head of the Department of Pharmacology from 1979 to 1982, while Graham Johnston held this position from 1983 to 1990.
In 1985, on the initiative of Bruce Cobbin the Department established The Roland H. Thorp Prize for the most proficient student in the third year science course. Roland Thorp received an honorary DSc from the University of Sydney in 1986. He died suddenly in 1987.
In 1987, the 10th International Congress of Pharmacology, a triennial event, was held in Sydney. Many members of the Department were heavily involved, and this Department together with that at the University of New South Wales was host to about 3000 overseas pharmacologists. Post-congress satellite meetings on research in dopamine, respiratory pharmacology and serotonin were also arranged by several members of staff.