30th anniversary of DNA fingerprinting marked by portrait unveiling of Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys

Posted by ap507 at Sep 11, 2014 06:00 PM |
School children also invited to solve first ever DNA fingerprinting case at coinciding Dynamic DNA 10th anniversary event

A detailed portrait of genetic fingerprinting pioneer Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys has captured his ‘lifestyle DNA’ by incorporating his role as a scientist as well as his hobbies.

The inventor of the revolutionary technology, which has had a global impact on forensic science, crime fighting, resolving paternity and immigration issues and questions of identity, will attend the unveiling of his portrait in the very same building where he made his discovery exactly 30 years ago. The Department of Genetics will also be celebrating its 50th anniversary over the next academic year.

The portrait was painted by prominent artist Tess Barnes as part of a new collection called Drawn to Science. It illustrates the remarkable achievements of Professor Jeffreys, while capturing his character and incorporating his personal interests.

Professor Jeffreys said: “It was an absolute pleasure and privilege to sit for Tess - she's not only a great portrait artist but also a delightful person and so enthusiastic about her own work and that of her sitters. I'm really pleased with the final result, capturing as it does my own somewhat chaotic character together with the various motifs that encapsulate my life and interests.

“I am humbled and thrilled to have this painting in our Department. I hope that it will inspire young scientists to strive to make yet more remarkable and life changing discoveries.”

Coinciding with the 30th anniversary, Leicestershire schoolchildren will get the chance to solve the first ever case where DNA fingerprinting was used to settle an immigration dispute - the first ever application of DNA fingerprinting - during the Department of Genetics's annual outreach event Dynamic DNA on 10 and 11 September 2014.

Approximately 600 Year 9 children and their teachers from schools across Leicestershire will get the chance to take part in more than 20 fun, engaging and educational activities developed by GENIE, to inspire young students to pursue scientific careers.

This year, the children will also be able to go back in time and try to solve Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys’s first ever case at Leicester using DNA fingerprinting, in which he proved that a young boy was in fact the son of a British woman, and therefore entitled to UK nationality.

Watch a video of the portrait unveiling and interviews with Professor Jeffreys and artist Tess Barnes below.

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