Porter, Keith

Canadian cytologist

In 1945 Keith Porter, with Albert Claude and Ernest F. Fullam, published the first electron micrograph of a complete cell in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. The photograph gave a new vigor to the study of cells that had been "becalmed in the doldrums" (Willmer 1965, p. 8). Biologists began to study subcellular components using centrifugation, tissue culture, and electron microscopy techniques devised by Porter, Claude, and George Palade. These techniques led to the integration of cell structure and function and the modern science of cell biology.

Porter was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, in 1912. In 1939 he joined the laboratory of cancer researcher James B. Murphy at The Rockefeller Institute (now University) to study cultured cells. However, conventional light microscopy was inadequate, and he began his mastery of the newly available electron microscope to examine fine cell structure. This demanded radical changes in specimen preparation. The cells had to be ultra thin and dry.

Porter was the first to identify the cell's endoplasmic reticulum , cilia , microtubules, and the microtrabecular lattice. To produce superior electron micrographs he devised methods of tissue culture and standards for cell preparation, founded the Tissue Culture Association, and designed the Porter-Blum microtome. He died in 1997.

SEE ALSO Cell ; Electron Microscopy

Carol L. Moberg


Moberg, Carol L. "The Electron Microscope Enters the Realm of the Intact Cell." Journal of Experimental Medicine 181 (1995): 829–837.

——. "Keith Porter and the Founding of the Tissue Culture Association." In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology 32 (1996): 663–669.

Porter, Keith R., Albert Claude, and Ernest F. Fullam. "A Study of Tissue Culture Cells by Electron Microscopy." Journal of Experimental Medicine 81 (1945): 233–246.

Willmer, E. N., ed. Cells and Tissues in Culture. New York: Academic Press, 1965.

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