Distinguished for the application of serological methods in human genetics, and of genetics in medicine. In particular he is principally responsible for the progressive elucidation of the complicated genetic situation found in connection with the Rhesus blood group and other factors capable of causing haemolytic disease. Besides showing how simple antigenic distinctions in families with heritable anomalies can be used for linkage studies, his work has immensely increased the number of human genotypes distinguishable by serological methods, and the efficacy of these methods in the recognition of individuality and parentage, and in the prognosis of future births.
Robert Race (28 November 1907 - 15 April 1984) and Ruth Sanger are undoubtedly the most well-known names in blood group science in the period following the Second World War up to 1980. Their contribution to the understanding of blood groups is probably only exceeded by the earlier work of Landsteiner.
Robert Race worked at the Galton Serum Laboratory before he and Arthur Mourant moved, in 1946, to the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine in London. Race became director of the Medical Research Council Blood Group Research Unit and Mourant became director of the Blood Group Reference Laboratory. Their partnership and cooperation resulted in many significant contributions to the knowledge and practice of blood group science.
In 1947 Robert Race was joined by Ruth Sanger, who became his wife. Together they wrote Blood groups in man.37 First published in 1950, it ran to seven editions and was subsequently translated into many languages. This work became the standard reference book on the subject for several decades.
In their early work on the Rh blood group system, Race and Sanger, inspired and supported by Professor Ronald Fisher in the UK, differed with Wiener in the USA. These differences reached the point of acrimonious exchanges in the scientific press about the mode of genetic inheritance.