Richard Laurence Millington Synge

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Richard Laurence Millington Synge
Richard Laurence Millington Synge.jpg
Born (1914-10-28)28 October 1914
Liverpool, England
Died 18 August 1994(1994-08-18) (aged 79)
Norwich, England
Fields biochemist
Alma mater Winchester College
Trinity College, Cambridge
Known for chromatography
Influences John H. Humphrey
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1952)
John Price Wetherill Medal (1959)

Richard Laurence Millington Synge FRS[1] (Liverpool, 28 October 1914 – Norwich, 18 August 1994) was a British biochemist, and shared the 1952 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the invention of partition chromatography with Archer Martin.

Synge was educated at Winchester College and Trinity College, Cambridge. He spent his entire career in research, at the Wool Industries Research Association, Leeds (1941–1943), Lister Institute for Preventive Medicine, London (1943–1948), Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen (1948–1967), and Food Research Institute, Norwich (1967–1976).[2]

It was during his time in Leeds that he worked with Archer Martin, developing partition chromatography, a technique used in the separation mixtures of similar chemicals, that revolutionized analytical chemistry.[3] Between 1942 and 1948 he studied peptides of the protein group gramicidin, work later used by Frederick Sanger in determining the structure of insulin. In March 1950 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for which his candidature citation read:

Distinguished as a biochemist. Was the first to show the possibility of using counter-current liquid-liquid extraction in the separation of N-acetylamino acids. In collaboration with A.J.P. Martin this led to the development of partition chromatography, which they have applied with conspicuous success in problems related to the composition and structure of proteins, particularly wool keratin. Synge's recent work on the composition and structure of gramicidins is outstanding and illustrates vividly the great advances in technique for which he and Martin are responsible.

— "Library and Archive catalogue". Royal Society. 

He was for several years the treasurer of the Chemical Information Group of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and held a Professorship in Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia from 1968–1984. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science (ScD) from the University of East Anglia in 1977, and an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Mathematics and Science at Uppsala University, Sweden in 1980.[4][5]


  1. ^ Gordon, H. (1996). "Richard Laurence Millington Synge. 28 October 1914-18 August 1994". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 42: 454–426. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1996.0028. JSTOR 770220. 
  2. ^ "Richard Lawrence Millington Synge" (PDF). Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 25 August 2015. 
  3. ^ Ettre, C. (2001). "Milestones in Chromatography: The Birth of Partition Chromatography" (PDF). LCGC. 19 (5): 506–512. Retrieved 2016-02-26. 
  4. ^ "Honorary Graduates of the University" (PDF). University of East Anglia. Retrieved 4 October 2016. 
  5. ^

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