Francis John Worsley Roughton

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Francis John Worsley Roughton (born June 6, 1899 in Kettering , † April 29, 1972 in Cambridge ) was a British biochemist . He developed methods for studying rapid reactions in liquids and was a discoverer of carbonic anhydrase .

Live and act

Roughton came from a family with a long tradition of resident doctors in Kettering. Due to tachycardia , Roughton chose a different profession and was spared military service during the First World War. He studied in Cambridge from 1918 and turned to chemistry after initially studying medicine. Under the influence of Joseph Barcroft , he studied the transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. In 1923 he became a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

In the early 1920s it was known that a red blood cell only needed about a second to pass through a capillary. The enzymatic reactions for the gas exchange had to take place very quickly and Roughton investigated this with a mixing device designed by Hamilton Hartridge, which could completely mix two liquids in a tenth of a millisecond. The state of the reaction of oxygen or carbon dioxide with the red blood cells could be determined by light absorption in an observation tube through which the liquid flowed at a known average speed. The reaction rate in liquids could thus be determined 50,000 times more precisely than before (from minutes to a millisecond). In experiments between 1923 and 1926 he was able to show that the length of time red blood cells remain in the capillaries is sufficient for gas exchange.

1932 discovered with Norman Urquhart Meldrum (1907-1933) independently of the Americans William C. Stadie and Helen O'Brien the enzyme responsible for regulating carbon dioxide from the blood, carbonic anhydrase , which is one of the fastest- acting enzymes known, and carbon dioxide in bicarbonate in the blood converts and vice versa if the concentration of bicarbonate is too high, so that it also plays a role in the acid-base balance.

He also investigated the direct binding of carbon dioxide in red blood cells to amino groups with the formation of carbamates and found evidence of this with JKW Ferguson. When oxygen is absorbed in the lungs, this carbamate content is released again.

In 1955, together with AB Otis and RLJ Lyster, he undertook the most precise determinations of the binding constants of oxygen to the four binding sites in hemoglobin. He also studied the diffusion of oxygen across cell membranes, using his math skills.

From 1923 to 1927 he was a lecturer in biochemistry at Cambridge, from 1927 to 1947 a lecturer in physiology and from 1947 he succeeded Eric Rideal in the chair of colloid science. He was frequently in the United States and worked at Harvard Business School during World War II on fatigue and military medical issues related to carbon dioxide in the blood.

In 1925 he married Alice Hopkinson, a doctor, with whom he had a son and a daughter.

Britton Chance is one of his PhD students .


Individual evidence

  1. Lowe, Das Chemiebuch, Librero 2017, p. 288