During the 1970s, there was recognition of the need to develop clinical pharmacology in medical schools. Efforts to establish Chairs of Clinical Pharmacology were supported by the Commonwealth Department of Health and the Australasian Society for Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists. In fact, there had earlier been a Wellcome Research Fellowship in Clinical Pharmacology in the Department of Medicine at this medical school, occupied for five years from 1964 by M.R. Playoust.
In 1978, Reckitt and Colman Australia Ltd, a firm which had close ties with the Department, was persuaded by the Dean of Medicine, Professor Richard Gye, to endow a Chair of Clinical Pharmacology within the Department. Reckitt and Colman's generosity now meant there were two Chairs to be advertised. Consequently, the Senate appointed John Shaw, a medical graduate from the University of Sydney, as Professor of Clinical Pharmacology in 1979. Changes to the medical curriculum were negotiated to increase the time allocated to Pharmacology, particularly to allow teaching of Clinical Pharmacology. John Shaw added expertise to cardiovascular areas of the Department, and established its clinical teaching.