Archer Martin

Archer Martin
Born Archer John Porter Martin
(1910-03-01)1 March 1910
London, England
Died 28 July 2002(2002-07-28) (aged 92)
Llangarron, Wales
Nationality British
Fields Chemistry
Alma mater Peterhouse, Cambridge
Known for Chromatography
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1952)
John Price Wetherill Medal (1959)

Archer John Porter Martin, FRS[1] (1 March 1910 – 28 July 2002) was an English chemist who shared the 1952 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the invention of partition chromatography with Richard Synge.

Early life

Martin's father was a GP. Martin was educated at Bedford School, and the University of Cambridge.


Working first in the Physical Chemistry Laboratory, he moved to the Dunn Nutritional Laboratory, and in 1938 moved to Wool Industries Research Institution in Leeds. He was head of the biochemistry division of Boots Pure Drug Company from 1946 to 1948, when he joined the Medical Research Council. There, he was appointed head of the physical chemistry division of the National Institute for Medical Research in 1952, and was chemical consultant from 1956 to 1959.

He specialised in biochemistry, in some aspects of vitamins E and B2, and in techniques that laid the foundation for several new types of chromatography.[2] He developed partition chromatography whilst working on the separation of amino acids,[3] and later developed gas-liquid chromatography.[4] Amongst many honours, he received his Nobel Prize in 1952.[5]

He published far fewer papers than the typical Nobel winners—only 70 in all—but his ninth paper won the Nobel. The University of Houston dropped him from its chemistry faculty in 1979 (when he was 69 years old) because he was not publishing enough.[6]

Personal life

In 1943 he married Judith Bagenal, and together they had two sons and three daughters.[7] In the last years of his life he suffered from Alzheimer's disease.

In popular culture

Martin was mentioned in the animated television series The Simpsons in the episode titled "Flaming Moe's" (Season 3, Episode 10). Character Martin Prince made reference to Martin while doing a show-and-tell presentation on the gas chromatograph.


  1. Lovelock, J. (2004). "Archer John Porter Martin CBE. 1 March 1910 -- 28 July 2002: Elected F.R.S. 1950". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 50: 157–170. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2004.0012. PMID 15754473.
  2. Martin, A J P (1950). "Partition Chromatography". Annual Review of Biochemistry. 19 (1): 517–542. doi:10.1146/ Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  3. Martin, A J P; Synge, R L M (1941). "A new form of chromatogram employing two liquid phases A theory of chromatography. 2. Application to the micro-determination of the higher monoamino-acids in proteins". Biochemical Journal. 35 (12): 1358–1368.
  4. Ettre, C. (2001). "Milestones in Chromatography: The Birth of Partition Chromatography" (PDF). LCGC. 19 (5): 506–512. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  5. Nobel Media. "Archer J.P. Martin - Facts". Retrieved 2016-02-27.
  6. See Obituary,New York Times Aug. 6, 2002
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