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Lecture slides of Rodney Robert Porter


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110 x 3.25 inch square double-glass slides which have the printing on the inner glass surface.


  • c.1948-1960


0.2 Linear metres (5 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials


Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Photogr. e. 66].
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Full range of shelfmarks:

MS. Photogr. e. 66-70

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 9430


110 glass slides of R.R. Porter (1917-1985), immunologist.

Biographical / Historical

Rodney Porter was born in Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire in 1917. He was educated at Ashton-in-Makerfield Grammar School (1928-1935) and Liverpool University (1935-1939), where he gained a first class degree in biochemistry. The second world war interrupted his post-graduate research at Liverpool and he saw active service in the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineers and the Royal Army Service Corps. On demobilization in 1946 he studied for his PhD under Fred Sanger in the department of biochemistry, at Cambridge, and it was here that he developed an interest in immunoglobulins. He married Julia Frances New, a research assistant in the physiology department at Cambridge, in 1948, and they had five children. After completing his PhD, he moved to the National Institute for Medical Research at Mill Hill, London in 1949. He was offered a position there by Thomas Work to pursue the interest of his own choice - the nature of antibody molecules. Although he made important advances during the period, notably the division of the molecule into three parts by papain digestion, in 1959 he still had little idea of the structure of the molecule (Bibliog. 15). In 1960 he was appointed to the first chair of immunology in Britain at the Wright-Fleming Institute at St Mary's Hospital Medical School in Paddington, London. His discovery of the 4-chain structure of antibody molecules in 1962 (Bibliog. 18-19) followed shortly after the demonstration by Geoffrey Edelman in the USA that antibodies were multichain proteins. He shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Edelman in 1972 (Bibliog. 21). He was appointed the Whitley Professor of Biochemistry at Oxford in 1967 where his interests changed to the proteins of the complement system. He died tragically in a road accident in 1985, shortly before he was due to retire, at the age of 67.

Beside the Nobel Prize, Porter received many honours in his lifetime. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1964, and received the Royal and Copley medals in 1973 and 1983 respectively. He was an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and shortly before his death he was made a Companion of Honour. He was elected to foreign membership of the National Academy of Sciences in 1972.

Further information can be found in the Dictionary of National Biography and Who Was Who.


The arrangement is by Dr Salaman. Porter's numbering system has been retained: a running number followed by the year of production. Twelve slides have no year marked. Dr Salaman has divided the slides into two groups: group A directly concern antibodies or γ-globulin (the fraction of serum containing antibodies); group B relate to other proteins or techniques used in protein chemistry. Each group is arranged chronologically, with undated slides placed at the end of the appropriate group.

Custodial History

The slides date from Porter's time at Mill Hill and the majority of them are labelled, 'Medical Research Council. National Institute for Medical Research, Mill Hill, London, N.W.7'. When Porter left St Mary's for Oxford, he left the slides behind, and they were later taken into the custody of Dr Salaman.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Dr Myer Salaman, Department of Immunology, St Mary's Campus of Imperial College School of Medicine, Norfolk Place, London, W2 1PG, June 2013, with the approval of Mrs Julia Porter, the widow of R.R. Porter.

Related Materials

The Bodleian Library also holds the papers and correspondence of R.R. Porter, 1933-1986, which were catalogued by the Contemporary Scientific Archives Centre in 1987 (CSAC 119.1.87): MSS. Eng. misc. c. 995-1011, d. 1398-1434, e. 1534-6.


  • H. Svensson, 'Preparative electrophoresis and ionophoresis', Advances in Protein Chemistry, 4 (1948), 251-95
  • R.R. Porter, 'A chemical study of rabbit antiovalbumin', Biochemical Journal, 46.4 (Apr 1950), 473-8
  • R.R. Porter, 'The formation of a specific inhibitor by hydrolysis of rabbit antiovalbumin', Biochemical Journal, 46.4 (Apr 1950), 479-84
  • A.J. Martin and R.R. Porter, 'The chromatographic fractionation of ribonuclease', Biochemical Journal, 49.2 (Jul 1951), 215-8
  • H. Fraenkel-Conrat and R.R. Porter, 'The terminal amino groups of conalbumin, ovomucoid and avidin', Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 9 (1952), 557-62
  • R.R. Porter, 'Partition chromatography of insulin and other proteins', Biochemical Journal, 53.2 (Jan 1953), 320-8
  • R.R. Porter, 'Chromatography of proteins', British Medical Bulletin, 10.3 (1954), 237-41
  • R.R. Porter, 'The fractionation of rabbit γ-globulin by partition chromatography', Biochemical Journal, 59.3 (Mar 1955), 405-10
  • O. Smithies, 'Zone electrophoresis in starch gels: group variations in the serum proteins of normal human adults', Biochemical Journal, 61.4 (Dec 1955), 629-41
  • R.R. Porter, 'The partition chromatography of enzymes', Methods in Enzymology, 1 (1955), 98-112
  • J.H. Humphrey and R.R. Porter, 'An investigation on rabbit antibodies by the use of partition chromatography', Biochemical Journal, 62.1 (Jan 1956), 93-9
  • R.R. Porter and E.M. Press, 'The fractionation of bovine γ-globulin by partition chromatography', Biochemical Journal, 66.4 (Aug 1957), 600-3
  • R.R. Porter, 'The isolation and properties of a fragment of bovine-serum albumin which retains the ability to combine with rabbit antiserum', Biochemical Journal, 66.4 (Aug 1957), 677-86
  • R.R. Porter, 'Separation and isolation of fractions of rabbit γ-globulin containing the antibody and antigenic combining sites', Nature, 182 (6 Sep 1958), 670-1
  • R.R. Porter, 'The hydrolysis of rabbit γ-globulin and antibodies with crystalline papain', Biochemical Journal, 73.1 (Sep 1959), 119-26
  • E.M. Press, R.R. Porter and J. Cebra, 'The isolation and properties of a proteolytic enzyme, cathepsin D, from bovine spleen', Biochemical Journal, 74.3 (Mar 1960), 501-14
  • F.W. Brambell, W.A. Hemmings, C.L. Oakley and R.R. Porter, 'The relative transmission of the fractions of papain hydrolyzed homologous γ-globulin from the uterine cavity to the foetal circulation in the rabbit', Proceedings of the Royal Society, B, 151 (1960), 478-82
  • 'The structure of gammaglobulins and antibodies' in Symposium on basic problems in neoplastic disease, ed. by A. Gellhorn and E. Hirschberg (Columbia University Press, 1962), 177-94
  • J.B. Fleischman, R.R. Porter and E.M. Press, 'The arrangement of the peptide chains in γ-globulin', Biochemical Journal, 88.2 (Aug 1963), 220-8
  • R.R. Porter, 'The structure of the heavy chain of immunoglobulin and its relevance to the nature of the antibody-combing site', Biochemical Journal, 105.2 (Nov 1967), 417-26
  • R.R. Porter, 'Structural studies of immunoglobulins', Nobel Lecture, 12 Dec 1972
Catalogue of lecture slides of Rodney Robert Porter c.1948-1960
Finding aid prepared by Catherine Parker
Language of description
Finding aid note
This catalogue was prepared using detailed notes provided by Dr Myer Salaman. He acknowledges the following, 'Some of the slides are difficult to interpret and I was greatly helped by Michael Crumpton, who worked in Porter's Department at St Mary's in the 1960s, and by Keith Gould and Alan Williamson. A few remain mysterious to us and maybe someone viewing the slides will be able to help.'

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom