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Richard Laurence Millington Synge

1914-1994
Biochemist - Winner of the 1952 Nobel Prize in Physics.

He was born at Liverpool on October 28th, 1914, as the son of Laurence Millington Synge, of Liverpool Stock Exchange, and Katharine Charlotte Swan.  In 1928 he went to Winchester College, where he studied mainly classics until 1931, thereafter natural science. In 1933 he entered Trinity College, University of Cambridge and studied physics, chemistry and physiology for Part I of the Natural Sciences Tripos (1935) and biochemistry for Part II (1936). During 1936-1939 he was a research student under supervision of Mr. N.W. Pirie in the University Biochemical Laboratory headed by Sir Frederick G. Hopkins, and during 1939-1941 at the Wool Industries Research Association at Leeds. He obtained his Ph.D. degree at Cambridge in 1941. In the same year, he joined the staff of the Wool Industries Research Association at Leeds and in 1943 that of the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine, London, in the Biochemistry Department under W.T.J. Morgan. Since 1948, he was Head of the Department of Protein Chemistry at the Rowett Research Institute at Bucksburn, Aberdeen.

The circumstances of his work up to 1945, including the collaborative work on partition chromatography and related topics, are described in the Nobel Lectures by A.J.P. Martin and himself.  They gave the first demonstration of partition chromatography to the Biochemical Society at its meeting at the National Institute for Medical Research, London, on June 7th, 1941.

After 1945 Dr. Synge was mainly interested in analytical problems concerning the larger peptide molecules, as antibiotics and as intermediates in protein metabolism. From 1942 to 1948 he worked almost exclusively with the antibiotic peptides of the gramicidin group. In 1946-1947 he spent eight months with Professor Tiselius at Uppsala, studying the application of his absorption methods to these compounds.

Dr. Synge was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1950 and of the Royal Institute of Chemistry in 1952. He is an honorary member of the American Society of Biological Chemists