He obtained his PhD in 1974 at the Royal College of Surgeons in London, where he contributed to the discovery that aspirin-like drugs inhibit prostaglandin biosynthesis, thus accounting for their analgesic, anti-pyretic and anti-inflammatory actions.
In 1975 he joined the Wellcome Research Laboratories where, as Head of the Department of Prostaglandin Research, he initiated and led the work that resulted in the discovery of the enzyme thromboxane synthase and the vasodilator prostacyclin. This work is the basis for the understanding of how low doses of aspirin prevent cardiovascular episodes such as myocardial infarction and stroke.
He was Director of Research at the Wellcome Research Laboratories from 1986 until 1995, during which time he oversaw the discovery and development of a number of drugs, including lamotrigine (anti-epileptic), zomig (anti-migraine), atovaquone (anti-malarial) and the initiation of the project which led to the finding and development of lapatinib (anti-cancer).
In 1985 he began a project that led to the identification of nitric oxide (NO) as the biological mediator and elucidated the pathway of its biosynthesis from the amino acid L-arginine. He proposed that the L-arginine: NO pathway is a widespread transduction mechanism for regulating cell function and communication.
In 1996 Prof. Moncada established the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research at University College London. The Wolfson Institute was one of the earliest academic translational research units in the UK. Over the years, it generated a number of companies, including Ark Therapeutics (vascular disease and cancer), Arrow Therapeutics (anti-infective drugs), CereXus (neuroscience), Inpharmatica (bioinformatics) and ProAxon (sodium channel blockers).
At the invitation of the Spanish Government, between 1999 and 2004 Professor Moncada conceived, designed and initiated the development of the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC) in Madrid.
In the last decade his work has focused on the role of the mitochondria in health and disease, both as providers of energy and suppliers of metabolic precursors during cell proliferation.
He is Emeritus Professor of Experimental Biology and Therapeutics at University College London and the Cancer Domain Director at the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, University of Manchester.
Professor Moncada is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Science of the USA. He has received numerous international awards and honorary doctorates from more than 25 Universities around the world. In 2010 he received a Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth the II for his services to Science.
Prof. Moncada’s research has had a major impact, as shown by his standing in the international citation indexes and his acknowledgement as the most cited UK scientist in biomedicine in the 1990s.