Archer John Porter Martin FRS (1910-2002)

Archer Martin worked at NIMR from 1948-56, during which time he co-invented gas liquid chromatography. Martin studied natural sciences then biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. He did postgraduate work in the Physical Chemistry Laboratory, Cambridge and the Dunn Nutritional Laboratory, where he met Richard Synge. In 1938, Martin joined the Wool Industries Research Station near Leeds, together with Synge, where they developed partition chromatography as a novel method of purification of amino acids. In 1948 Martin was recruited for his “touch of genius” into the Department of Biochemistry at NIMR.

With Tony James he developed gas liquid chromatography and in 1952 received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Synge. He was appointed Head of the Division of Physical Chemistry at NIMR after the death of William Elford in 1952. Whether his dyslexia was much of an obstacle is unclear, but Martin left NIMR in 1956 to pursue avenues outside the confines of a laboratory, including work for companies such as Esso. The Division of Physical Chemistry closed after his departure. His aphorisms included “Nothing is too much trouble, provided always the trouble is taken by someone else.”

Archer John Porter Martin
Archer John Porter Martin

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