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Postwar Blood Grouping 2: Arthur Mourant’s National and International Networks

Postwar Blood Grouping 2: Arthur Mourant’s National and International Networks

Chapter:
(p.135) Seven Postwar Blood Grouping 2: Arthur Mourant’s National and International Networks
Source:
Blood Relations
Author(s):
Jenny Bangham
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226740171.003.0008

The Lister Institute also housed the Medical Research Council's Blood Group Reference Laboratory, directed by Arthur Mourant. It carried out routine testing of puzzling blood samples, and distributed standard blood grouping antisera nationally, to the British National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS), and internationally, especially to labs associated with the World Health Organization (WHO). Mourant’s authority within the NBTS and the WHO put him in a position to engage in another project: to assemble large quantities of data on blood group population frequencies, in Britain and around the world. He oversaw a facility dedicated to the collection of such data, called the Nuffield Blood Group Centre, on the premises of the Royal Anthropological Institute in central London. This chapter examines how the movement of antisera and blood samples helped Mourant to channel blood group population data to this extensive data archive in London. It shows how these channels were shaped by wartime blood transfusion, by established colonial networks, and by new postwar infrastructures of international health. Coupling his standardization work to his paper-based “anthropological” collections meant that within a few years Mourant could claim to be in charge of the most authoritative collection of blood group genetic data in the world.

Keywords:   Arthur Mourant, Blood Group Reference Laboratory, antisera, National Blood Transfusion Service, World Health Organisation, WHO, Nuffield Blood Group Centre, Royal Anthropological Institute, standardization, data archive

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