Archer Martin

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London, England
Birth Sign
London, England

Archer John Porter Martin was a British chemist who won the 1952 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for inventing modern chromatography, a technique that enables the separation of distinct compounds in a mixture. He shared the award with Richard Lawrence Millington Sygne, another biochemist. Prior to the adoption of his technique by others, it had been extremely difficult to separate the compounds because chemical reactions never produced pure and clean products. Even repeated distillation, crystallization, and solvent extraction were insufficient to obtain the compounds in their pure form. Although Mikhail Tswett, a Russian-Italian chemist, invented the first method of absorption chromatography in the early twentieth century, the technique never gained widespread acceptance. Martin, on the other hand, invented three distinct chromatography techniques: partition, paper, and gas-liquid chromatography, all of which became extremely popular and are still used today. By the end of 1953, his chromatography technique had spread like wildfire, owing to the fact that academia and industry had waited a long time for a technique capable of cleanly and rapidly separating relatively volatile compounds. The oil and gas industries reaped the greatest benefits from his discoveries. Throughout his career, he served as a consultant to a variety of firms.

Childhood & Adolescence

Archer Martin was born on March 1, 1910, in Upper Holloway, London. William Archer Porter Martin, his father, was an Irish physician, and Lilian Kate Brown Ayling, his mother, was a nurse. Nora was his elder sister. Martin’s family relocated to Bedford in 1920, and he attended Bedford School from 1921 to 1929.

In 1929, he was awarded a scholarship to study chemical engineering at Peterhouse College, Cambridge. Marin switched from chemical engineering to biochemistry at the insistence of the eminent biochemist John Burdon Sanderson Haldane at Cambridge.

He worked at the physical chemistry laboratory following his graduation in 1932 before joining the university’s ‘Dunn Nutritional Laboratory’ in 1933.

He worked here until 1939, collaborating with Tommy Moore and Leslie J. Harris on the isolation of Vitamin E and with Sir Charles Martin on the isolation of the anti-pellagra factor. In 1936, he earned a PhD.

Martin met fellow graduate student Richard L. M. Synge in 1938 and the two began collaborating on the development of more efficient concurrent extraction equipment.

Career of Archer

Archer Martin began his career in 1938 as a biochemist at the ‘Wool Industries and Research Association’ or ‘WIRA’ in Leeds. He continued to construct more elaborate concurrent apparatuses until he succeeded in constructing a working one.

Synge joined him at the WIRA in 1939, and together they developed a partition-chromatographic technique capable of successfully isolating acetylated amino acids.

They presented partition chromatography to the ‘Biochemical Society’ on June 7, 1941, at the ‘National Institute for Medical Research, Hampstead’.

Martin and Sygne proposed using fine particles and high pressures to improve separation, which became popular in the mid-1970s as high-pressure liquid chromatography.

They contributed to the war effort during World War II by inventing a cloth that shielded soldiers from mustard gas.

Synge resigned from WIRA in 1943. Martin continued his paper chromatography experiments with Raphel Consden.

Martin invented paper chromatography in 1944, using filter paper that was inexpensive, readily available, and capable of absorbing water. On March 25, 1944, he presented his findings to the ‘Biochemical society’ at the ‘Middlesex Hospital, London.

Martin joined the ‘Boots Pure Drug Company’ (BPDC) in Nottingham in 1946 as head of the ‘Biochemistry Division’ and worked there until 1948.

In 1948, he left the BPDC and joined the London-based ‘Medical Research Council’ (MRC), formerly known as the ‘Lister Institute’.

In 1950, he began working at the MRC’s flagship company, the ‘National Institute for Medical Research’ (NIMR), in Mill Hill, near London, alongside Tony James and under director Sir Charles Harington.

In 1952, he was appointed head of this Institute’s ‘Division of Physical Chemistry.’Martin used gas-liquid chromatography, which he had previously explored with Synge, to assist a colleague, Geroge Popjak, in separating a mixture of fatty acids from goat’s milk while at NIMR.

Martin demonstrated his new technique to the ‘Biochemical Society’ on October 20, 1950, at NIMR, and to the ‘International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry’ in September 1952, at the ‘Dyson Perrins Laboratory’ in Oxford.

He resigned from NIMR in 1956 and focused on machinery rather than scientific research. He was unable to keep up with advances in the field of biochemistry and was left behind as others advanced.

He acquired Abbotsbury in 1957 with the proceeds from the Nobel Prize and established ‘Abbotsbury Laboratories Ltd.,’ where he concentrated on the isolation of inflammatory compounds found in eggs, milk, and liver.

From 1969 to 1974, he served as a visiting professor at the ‘Technical University of Eindhoven’ and as a consultant to ‘Philips Electronics, Netherlands’.

In 1970, he was hired as a consultant for the ‘Wellcome Foundation’s research laboratories in Beckenham, Kent, but left in 1973.

In 1973, he joined the ‘University of Sussex,’ where he established a research team funded by the ‘Medical Research Council.’ He attempted to isolate insulin from pig gut and to create a vacuum pump for freeze-drying as well as a hand-held pump for needle-free vaccine administration.

In 1974, he was appointed to the ‘Robert A. Welch Professorship’ at the ‘University of Houston’ in Texas, United States of America, but his professorship was terminated in 1979 due to disagreements with the university’s administration.

In 1984, he retired and relocated to Cambridge with his family.

Significant Works of Archer

In 1941, Archer Martin published a book with Richard L. M. Synge titled ‘Separation of Higher Monoamino-Acids by Counter-Current Liquid-liquid Extraction: The Amino-Acid Composition of Wool.’

In 1944, he co-authored the book ‘Qualitative Analysis of Proteins: A Partition Chromatographic Method Using Paper’ with Raphel Consden and A. Hugh Gordon.

In 1952, he co-authored ‘Gas-Liquid Partition Chromatography: The Separation and Micro-Estimation of Volatile Fatty Acids from Formic Acid to Dodecanoic Acid’ with Anthony T. James.

Awards and Accomplishments

In 1950, Archer Martin was elected a ‘Fellow of the Royal Society.’In 1951, he was awarded the ‘Berzelius Medal’ by the ‘Swedish Medical Society.

In 1952, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry. He was a 1958 recipient of the ‘John Scott Award,’ the 1959 recipient of the ‘John Price Wetherill Medal,’ the 1959 recipient of the ‘Franklin Institute Medal,’ and the 1963 recipient of the ‘Leverhulme Medal. In 1960, he was awarded the CBE.

Personal History and Legacies

He married Judith Bagenal in 1943 and the couple had three daughters and two sons.
Until the age of eight, he struggled with dyslexia and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1985. In 1996, he was transferred to a nursing home in Llangarron.
Archer Martin died in a nursing home in Llangarron, Herefordshire, England, on July 28, 2002.

Estimated Net Worth

The Net Worth of Jorden Martin at the moment 2022 year – is about $237,1 Million.


Archer Martin was unable to obtain employment in any organization due to a lack of managerial and organizational skills.