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Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys FRS

Discoverer of DNA fingerprinting, Royal Society Wolfson Research Professor, Department of Genetics, University of Leicester, and Patron of Humanists UK, born 1950

I am extremely sympathetic to the aims of your Association,” Alec Jeffreys wrote to Humanists UK in 1996.

Alec Jeffreys was first introduced to science at the age of 8 when his father gave him a chemistry set and microscope. Having survived a series of youthful and hazardous experiments, he went on to study Biochemistry and Genetics at the University of Oxford. Following two years of post-doctoral research at the University of Amsterdam, he joined the Department of Genetics at Leicester in 1977. He is best known for his development of genetic fingerprinting in 1984 and for his subsequent demonstration that it could provide a completely new and very powerful approach to biological identification. The discovery and its first use in a murder case was dramatized in ITV’s “Code of a Killer” in April 2015. He has, however, expressed reservations about the state’s use of DNA profiling.

He has received many awards and distinctions for his work, including a Knighthood for Services to Genetics, a Fellowship of the Royal Society, the Albert Einstein World of Science Award for 1996 and the Australia Prize. He has also received recognition outside the scientific community, being voted “Midlander of the Year” for 1989 and being made an Honorary Freeman of the City of Leicester in 1993.  In August 2014 he was awarded the world’s oldest science prize, the Royal Society’s Copley Medal .

See also
The DNA genius who fears the dark side of his discovery” – Observer feature on Professor Alec Jeffreys , Sunday August 8, 2004
Sir Alec Jeffreys describes the discovery and development of genetic fingerprinting – for more on his academic interests and publications

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