Alec Jeffreys Biography

Prof. Sir Alec Jeffreys studied biochemistry and genetics at Merton College, Oxford. Following an EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Amsterdam where, with Dr Richard Flavell, he was one of the first to discover split genes, he moved in 1977 to the Department of Genetics at the University of Leicester where he held the positions of Professor of Genetics and Royal Society Wolfson Research Professor until his retirement in 2012.

Sir Alec’s research at Leicester focussed on exploring human DNA variation and the mutation processes that create this diversity. He was one of the first to discover inherited variation in human DNA, then went on to invent DNA fingerprinting, showing how it could be used to resolve issues of identity and kinship. This discovery revolutionised forensic and legal medicine, and has impacted on the lives of millions of people worldwide. His more recent work concentrated on developing new approaches to analysing variation and mutation in human chromosomes.

Sir Alec’s work has received widespread recognition, including his election to the Royal Society in 1986 and a Knighthood for services to genetics in 1994. Other awards include the Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine (2004), the Lasker Award (2005) and the Heineken Prize (2006). He was also one of the four finalists for the Millennium Prize in 2008.