Lives of the fellows

Henry Stanley Raper

b.5 March 1882 d.12 December 1951
CBE(1918) BSc Leeds(1903) MB ChB Leeds(1910) DSc Leed(1910) MSc Manch(1929) Hon LLD Leeds(1943) FRIC(1918) FRS(1929) *FRCP(1938)

Henry Stanley Raper, who was to become one of the foremost biochemists of his day, was the eighth and youngest child of James Rhodes Raper, a businessman, of Bradford, and Sarah Ann Tankard. He did not graduate in medicine until he was twenty-eight as he followed his earlier education at Bradford Technical College with a B.Sc, course at the Old Yorkshire College, later Leeds University, and spent three years at the Lister Institute and some months in post-graduate study at Strasbourg before returning to Leeds to complete his medical course.

From 1910 to 1913 he was both lecturer in pathological chemistry at Toronto University and professor of organic and bio-chemistry at the Ontario Dental School. He then returned to Leeds as lecturer in physiology and biochemistry, and in 1918 was elected to the chair in physiology after two years spent as the lieutenant-colonel, R.A.M.C., in charge of the Antigas Establishment of the Royal Engineers. From 1923 to 1946 Raper was Brackenbury professor of physiology and director of the physiological laboratories at Manchester University. He was then appointed to the chair of chemical physiology, which he held until 1951. He led a very busy life; for these five years he was full time dean of the faculty of medicine and at various times part-time dean, pro-vice-chancellor and a member of the Manchester Regional Hospital Board. His outside services were to the Medical Research Council (1933-9), the General Medical Council (1943-51), and the council of the Royal Society, (1939-41). For his last three years he was on the Board of Governors of the United Manchester Hospitals. His services as examiner in physiology and biochemistry were sought at many universities.

Raper never lost interest in the advance of scientific medicine. He was a pioneer in work on the metabolism of fats, the formation of melanin and the tyrosinase-tyrosine reaction, while his experiments on the study of enzyme reaction were a model for his colleagues in biochemistry. His interest in the practical application of these advances was shown in the active part he played in founding the clinical research laboratory of Manchester Royal Infirmary.

He was a man of striking appearance; six foot four, with snow-white hair and kindly though penetrating blue eyes, he stood out in any company. No one, student or colleague, sought his help in vain; he had no enemies. He led a happy outdoor life; he was an expert gardener and loved expeditions with the University Sketching Club, of which he was the founder, for he could produce impeccable drawings and delightful water-colours.

In 1911 he married Evelyn, daughter of Wright Rhodes, a wool manufacturer, of Bradford. One of their two sons became a urologist in Leeds.

Richard R Trail

* He was elected under the special bye-law which provides for the election to the fellowship of "Persons holding a medical qualification, but not Members of the College, who have distinguished themselves in the practice of medicine, or in the pursuit of Medical or General Science or Literature..."

[Brit.med.J., 1951, 2, 1527-8 (p); 1952, 1, 165; Lancet, 1951, 2, 1229-30 (p); Times, 14 Dec. 1951.]

(Volume V, page 343)

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