Rodney R. Porter Biography
(British Biochemist and 1972 Nobel Prize in Medicine Winner Known for Determining the Chemical Structure of Antibodies)
Birthday: October 8, 1917 (Libra)
Born In: Newton-le-Willows, United Kingdom
Rodney Robert Porter was a Nobel Prize winning English biochemist who, along with Gerald M. Edelman, won the 1972 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The duo won the award for their discoveries concerning the chemical structure of antibodies. Porter was fascinated with science from an early age. He later graduated from the University of Liverpool with biochemistry and then served in the British Army during the Second World War. Soon after being discharged from the army, he enrolled at the University of Cambridge, to earn his doctorate. His dissertation was on methods of seeking the active sites of the antibodies, a subject on which he had worked almost throughout his life. He established that an antibody, also known as immunoglobulin, was shaped like a Y and was made up of four chains of amino acids. He also established that they consisted of three domains, two of which had the capacity to bind the antigen, while the third segment linked the two heavy chains together. Later, he created a model of the antibody. However, Gerald Edelman, working separately on the same topic, preceded him in this. Interestingly, they were never competitors, but drew upon each other’s work. Together they founded the field of molecular immunology, which had a far reaching influence on medical science.