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John Porter was one of the early pioneers in the science that later became known as neuroendocrinology — the study of how the nervous system and the endocrine system interact. 

He was among the first to study how the hypothalamus interacted with the pituitary gland and to measure peptide hormones in the brain.  Using tiny cannulas and an “embolating” devise to inject air bubbles at prescribed intervals, he collected discrete aliquots of hypophysial portal rat blood over long periods of time.  This system was revolutionary because it prevented the mixing of peptides during prolonged collections. 

A 1949 graduate of Baylor University in Waco, Dr. Porter received his Masters of Arts degree from Texas Technological College in Lubbock (1950).  After earning his Ph.D. from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa (1952), he spent a year doing postdoctoral research under the direction of Edwin C. Hamblen, M.D., in the Division of Endocrinology at Duke University School of Medicine.  In 1953, he joined the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School as an Instructor of Physiology.  He was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1955, Associate in 1959, and Professor in 1964. 

Following the establishment of the Center for Reproductive Biology Sciences, Dr. Porter became its scientific director.  (Later, the Center’s name was change to the Cecil H. and Ida Green Center for Reproductive Biology Sciences.)  In 1972, he received a joint appointment in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and moved his laboratories to the Department in 1973.  In 1981, he became the first recipient of the newly created Arthur Grollman Professorship in Neuroendocrinology. 

A leading authority on prolactin and dopaminergic research in the rat brain, he trained 35 research fellows from 16 countries over his 50-year career at UT Southwestern.  He maintained an NIH continuation grant for more than 30 years and published more than 270 scientific papers.  His interest in the role of the pituitary gland in controlling dopamine neurons in the brain as it aged led to an NIH MERIT grant to study “Aging and Molecular Neuron Impairment” in 1989.  

Retiring in 1995, he continued to work part time as an Adjunct Professor, consulting and mentoring faculty and fellows and distributing the tyrosine hydroxylase monoclonal antibody he’d developed.  After his full retirement in 2003, Dr. Porter became the first Ph.D. in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology to be named Professor Emeritus — and only the third faculty member to achieve that status. 


Graduate School
Duke Univ - School of Medicine (1952), Reproductive Biology


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Honors & Awards

  • Recipient of Doctor Honoris Causa Award
    University of Aix-Marseille, France (1990)
  • Recipient of MERIT Award from National Institutes of Health
    For demonstrating superior competence and outstanding productivity during previous research endeavors (1987)
  • First recipient of Arthur Grollman Professorship of Neuroendocrinology
    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UT Southwestern (1981)
  • Recipient of The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology Purdue Frederick Award
    for Excellent Medical Research (1978)

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • American Physiological Society
  • Phi Kappa Phi
  • Sigma Xi
  • Society for the Study of Reproduction
  • The Endocrine Society