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Richard L. Millington Synge Nobel Prize Medal to Be Auctioned

Synge Nobel Prize Medal.
Synge Nobel Prize Medal. Image: Nate D. Sanders Auctions / CoinWeek.

The Nobel Prize medal in Chemistry awarded to Richard L. Millington Synge in 1952 for his invention of partition chromatography will be auctioned on May 30 by Nate D. Sanders Auctions.

Partition Chromatography: A Catalyst for Scientific Discoveries

Partition chromatography, developed by Synge, revolutionized the field of molecular biology in the second half of the 20th century. This groundbreaking technique allowed scientists to separate biochemical substances into their fundamental parts, providing elusive insights that had previously eluded researchers. Key contributions of partition chromatography include:

  • Understanding DNA Structure: Partition chromatography played a pivotal role in unraveling the mystery of DNA. By allowing scientists to determine the quantity and sequence of ingredients in a substance, it paved the way for Watson and Crick’s discovery of the DNA double helix structure in 1953.
  • Insulin Synthesis: Synge’s invention directly impacted medical science. By enabling the sequencing of insulin’s protein structure, partition chromatography facilitated the biosynthetic production of insulin. Before this breakthrough, diabetic patients relied on expensive and unstable bovine insulin.
  • Amino Acid Sequencing: Partition chromatography allowed scientists to differentiate and sequence the 22 different types of amino acids in genetic code. This understanding of protein structure remains essential in pharmaceutical research and development.

The Unexpected Origins of a Nobel Prize

Synge’s invention originated at the Wool Industries Research Association in Leeds, England, during the early 1940s. Alongside his colleague Archer Martin, Synge aimed to understand the amino acid structure of wool, supporting the UK textile industry’s competition with synthetic fiber substitutes. Little did they know that their invention would shape scientific progress for decades to come.

In addition to winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Synge was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1963. He completed his secondary schooling at Winchester College before studying chemistry at Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. He died in 1994.

Bidding for the medal begins at $150,000. Additional information on Richard L. Millington Synge’s Nobel Prize medal can be found at natedsanders.com.

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