Rodney R. Porter
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1972
Born: 8 October 1917, Newton-le-Willows, United Kingdom
Died: 6 September 1985, Winchester, United Kingdom
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: “for their discoveries concerning the chemical structure of antibodies”
Prize share: 1/2
Our immune system protects us from attacks by microorganism and poisons, in part through formation of antibodies in the blood that neutralize foreign substances. Rodney Porter and Gerald Edelmann separately researched the chemical composition of antibodies. Using various chemical methods, they split up antibodies into smaller parts and mapped their biological effects. In 1959, this allowed them to determine the structure of antibodies. Antibodies are made up of two smaller and two larger polypeptide chains that form a Y-shaped structure.