The invention of DNA fingerprinting

We revolutionised crime detection when we invented genetic fingerprinting. How will you change the world?

Discovered by Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, Department of Genetics, 1984

“My life changed on Monday morning at 9.05am, 10 September 1984. What emerged was the world’s first genetic fingerprint.”

Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys

Professor Jeffreys’ work in the Leicester labs led to the discovery of the technique for genetic fingerprinting, which revealed a pioneering method of biological identification. The technique identified the DNA variations in each human, which could be retrieved from hair, saliva and blood amongst other things, that makes each one of us unique. The implications of the discovery were to become far reaching.

In this short video Professor Jeffreys talks about the
morning he made his important discovery.

By the following year DNA fingerprinting was used to solve the first immigration case, the first paternity case and the first identification of identical twins. In 1986, only two years after the initial discovery in the lab, the first criminal investigation to use DNA fingerprinting evidence had been successfully completed. As a consequence the world’s first conviction using DNA evidence was achieved in Leicestershire.

Sir Alec’s discovery opened a whole new area of forensic science and has become integral to modern criminal investigations, crime scene analysis, paternity testing, twin studies, immigration disputes (especially where no documentary evidence existed), and conservation and diversity among non-human species.

What will you discover at Leicester?

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