Serological Population Genetics Laboratory
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About this work
The Serological Population Genetics Laboratory (SPGL) was established by the Medical Research Council following Mourant's suggestions in 1963 to create a unit that would combine the sort of testing work undertaken in the Blood Group Reference Laboratory with the statistical and bibliographical work of the Anthropological (formerly Nuffield) Blood Group Centre, of which he was Honorary Advisor (de facto Director). The SPGL was based in premises rented by St Bartholomew's Hospital, London and began operating on 1 September 1965. Mourant was made an honorary senior lecturer in haematology in the Hospital.
The work of the SPGL was divided between two sections. The first was a testing laboratory. This did most of its work for the Human Adaptability (HA) Section of the International Biological Programme (IBP), carrying out tests for a wide range of inherited blood factors and giving advice and information. The second action comprised the Anthropological Blood Group Centre that has been transferred to the SPGL. this did bibliographical and statistical work but its chief function was to prepare a second edition of The Distribution of the Human Blood Groups.
The Medical Research Council announced that it was to close the SPGL on Mourant's retirement in March 1971, 15 months before the completion of the main phase of the IBP. However, Mourant was anxious that the SPGL continue in being in order to complete work on four projects. the first was the seeing through the publication of second edition of The Distribution of the Human Blood Groups,the second project was working up the SPGL's own data collected for the IBP and summarizing data collected by the IBP as a whole, and the third and the fourth project were to prepare monographs on the blood groups of jews and associated populations and on the associations between blood groups and diseases, respectively.
The MRC agreed to extend its support of the work on the distribution of human blood groups through personal grants to Mourant and his staff, initially for one year, subsequently extended into 1973. However, it confirmed its decision to close the testing laboratory of the SPGL. Mourant applied to a number of foundations for support for the IBP work and the other two projects. he met with considerable success, receiving awards from the Nuffield Trust, the Royal Anthropological Institute, the Royal Society, the Wolfson Trust, the World Health Organisation and the European Research Office of the United States Army. The SPGL finally closed in 1976 when St Bartholomew's Hospital withdrew its accommodation.