Rodney Robert Porter

Rodney Porter
Born Rodney Robert Porter
(1917-10-08)8 October 1917
Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire
Died 6 September 1985(1985-09-06) (aged 67)
Nationality English
Fields biochemistry
Alma mater
Thesis The free amino groups of proteins (1948)
Doctoral advisor Frederick Sanger[1]
Known for Chemical structure of antibodies
Notable awards

Rodney Robert Porter, CH, FRS[2] (8 October 1917 – 6 September 1985) was an English biochemist[3][4] and Nobel laureate.[5][6][7]

Education and early life

Born in Newton-le-Willows, St Helens, Lancashire, England, Rodney Robert Porter received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Liverpool in 1939 for Biochemistry. He moved to the University of Cambridge where he became Fred Sanger's first PhD student.[1] He was awarded his doctorate in 1948.[8][9]

Career and research

Porter worked for the National Institute for Medical Research for eleven years (1949–1960) before joining St. Mary's Hospital Medical School, Imperial College London and becoming the Pfizer Professor of Immunology. In 1967 he was appointed Whitley Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford, and Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford. His colleague Elizabeth Press (Betty Press) worked with him at NIMR, St Mary's and at Oxford contributing extensively to the work which led to the Nobel Prize.

Awards and honours

Porter was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1964.[2] He won the Gairdner Foundation International Award in 1966. In 1972, Porter shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology with Gerald M. Edelman for determining the chemical structure of an antibody.[10][11][12][13][14] Using the enzyme papain, he broke the blood's immunoglobin into fragments, making them easier to study. He also looked into how the blood's immunoglobins react with cellular surfaces. He subsequently worked with colleagues Kenneth BM Reid, Robert Sim and Duncan Campbell on developing understanding of the Complement Proteins associated with defence against infection.

In 1991, Raymond Dwek founded the Oxford Glycobiology Institute at the Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford and this building was named after Porter as the Rodney Porter building.


Porter died in a road accident at Winchester.


  1. 1 2 "Rodney Porter Memorial Lectures". Oxford: University of Oxford. Archived from the original on 2015-01-04.
  2. 1 2 3 Perry, S. V. (1987). "Rodney Robert Porter. 8 October 1917-6 September 1985". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 33: 444–426. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1987.0017. JSTOR 769960. PMID 11621436.
  3. Johnstone, A. P.; Kerr, M. A.; Turner, M. W. (1985). "Rodney Robert Porter (1917–1985)". Journal of Immunological Methods. 85 (1): 1–4. doi:10.1016/0022-1759(85)90268-6. PMID 3908556.
  4. Steiner, L. A. (1985). "Rodney Robert Porter (1917–1985)". Nature. 317 (6036): 383. doi:10.1038/317383a0. PMID 3900741.
  5. Raju, T. N. (1999). "The Nobel chronicles. 1972: Gerald M Edelman (b 1929) and Rodney R Porter (1917-85)". Lancet. 354 (9183): 1040. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)76658-7. PMID 10501404.
  6. Schlesinger, M. (1973). "The 1972 Nobel prize for medicine, G.M. Adelman and R.R. Porter". Harefuah. 84 (1): 41. PMID 4571222.
  7. Harboe, M. (1972). "Nobel prize for immunoglobulin research". Tidsskrift for den Norske laegeforening : tidsskrift for praktisk medicin, ny raekke. 92 (34): 2363–2365. PMID 4568120.
  8. Britannica Information on Rodney Porter
  9. Nobel Prize Biography of Rodney Porter
  10. Kyle, R A; Shampo M A (November 2000). "R.R. Porter—the 4-chain structure of immunoglobulin G". Mayo Clin. Proc. 75 (11): 1110. doi:10.4065/75.11.1110. PMID 11075737.
  11. "Proceedings of the International Symposium on "The role and significance of international cooperation in the biomedical sciences." Dedicated to the memory of Dr. Rodney R. Porter. Washington, D.C., September 21–23, 1983". Perspect. Biol. Med. 29 (3 Pt 2): S1–229. 1986. PMID 3523420.
  12. Small, P A (1985). "Rod Porter: his gifts to a young scientist". Biosci. Rep. 5 (10–11): 969–71. doi:10.1007/BF01119909. PMID 3913473.
  13. Pasternak, C A (1985). "Rodney Robert Porter". Biosci. Rep. 5 (10–11): 809–13. doi:10.1007/BF01119892. PMID 3913470.
  14. Pasternak, Charles A. (1985). "Special issue in memory of Rodney Porter". Biosci. Rep. 5 (10–11): 809–1014. PMID 3913469.
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