Applications of partition chromatography

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Applications of partition chromatography ( applications-partition-chromatography )

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RICHARD L.M. SYNGE Applications of partition chromatography Nobel Lecture, December 12, 1952 This lecture is intended to depict some of the applications and consequences of the invention of partition chromatography. Before embarking on this, though, I should explain how I came to be taking part in the collaborative work which Dr. Martin has just described. While still at school I heard tell of the science of biochemistry, which should draw together two aspects of nature into a common study. I had long been fascinated by living things (particularly the wild plants), and more recently by chemistry. This last was probably more for the appeal to the senses of the chemist’s activities than for the knowledge of the nature of things which chemistry imparts. It was particularly reading in the newspaper Sir Frederick Hopkins’ presidential address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science at Leicester in 1933 that impressed on me the idea that living things must have wonderfully precise and complicated working parts on the molecular scale and that the biochemist had the best chance of finding out how these are put together and do their work. As I was to begin studying natural science at Cambridge University in the same year, the ambition of studying in Prof. Hopkins’ laboratory could easily be realized. Nevertheless, experiences in that laboratory in the elementary course taken by medical stu- dents did not give the impression of biochemistry being a refined or precise science. It was with a rather blind faith in the ultimate justification of Hop- kins’ ideas that, after several months of indecision, I embarked on the ad- vanced course in his laboratory (Part II of the Natural Sciences Tripos). Here, immediately, one came in contact with exciting facts and exciting ideas. The latter outnumbered the former, usually. However, at an early stage in the course the student engaged in some quite rigorous isolative work under the guidance of Mr. N. W. Pirie. Pirie used to enliven the long hours at the bench with caustic anecdotes from the history of biochemistry which helped, quite as much as the isolative work itself and his comments thereon, to develop the critical faculty in those who possessed a rudiment of it. On graduating in 1936 I continued in the laboratory as a research student under

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