Prestigious Professorship announced in the name of inventor of genetic fingerprinting

Posted by er134 at Apr 04, 2014 10:35 AM |
New post at University of Leicester in 30th anniversary year of landmark discovery

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 4 April 2014

The University of Leicester has announced a new Professorship in the name of the world-renowned scientist Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys in the 30th anniversary year of his landmark discovery of genetic fingerprinting.

The post of Jeffreys Professor of Genetics is the first time the University has appointed a Chair in the name of an existing member of the University.

Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, who retired in 2012, is Emeritus Professor at the University and has recently been involved in supporting new research by the Department of Genetics into the remains of King Richard III.

Head of Genetics Professor Julian Ketley added: “Alec has contributed immeasurable kudos to the Department and University through his truly transformational development of DNA fingerprinting, his subsequent discoveries about fundamental aspects of genome dynamics, and his willingness to engage in public debate about genetics.

“We wish to take the opportunity to recognise Alec’s scientific and personal legacy to the Department and University in a prestigious academic Chair.”

Alec Jeffreys joined the University of Leicester in 1977 and during his illustrious career he accumulated over 200 papers, 69 major scientific prizes and honorary degrees, a knighthood, an h-index of 67, numerous memberships of funding bodies and editorial boards, as well as a memorable appearance on Desert Island Discs.

September 10 2014 will mark the 30th anniversary of his historic discovery and the academic year also marks the 50th anniversary of the department.

The University has currently advertised the post for an individual with ‘a clear research vision to undertake high-impact research in any aspect of genetics, genomics and diversity.’

The individual will be expected to establish a research group as well as teach at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.  S/he would undertake administrative duties and also play and ambassadorial role, presenting at international conferences and sitting on advisory boards.

Professor Jeffreys is known as the ‘Father of Genetic Fingerprinting’. He was awarded the highest accolade the University of Leicester could present- a Distinguished Honorary Fellowship – in 2004 when the University paid tribute to the magnitude of his achievement.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Robert Burgess said: “The pursuit of knowledge and quest for excellence is exemplified in the life and work of Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, who discovered DNA fingerprinting. His career is a testament to the values that higher education as a whole holds dear - epitomising the transformative nature of research to change the world for the better.

“His legacy of world-class research and its ability to change the world has not only allowed the University of Leicester to enhance its reputation, it has provided inspiration to generations of undergraduate and postgraduate students, research associates, and peers.”

A Forensic Science Institute named after Professor Jeffreys was opened at the University shortly after he retired.


Notes to editors:

The post is advertised here:

The closing date is midnight on 24 April.

Chronology of DNA fingerprinting at Leicester


  • Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys Joined the University of Leicester


  • Professor Jeffreys is joint first to describe how to detect human genetic variation at the DNA level, and first to produce a pretty good estimate of how many sites in the genome, where genetic variation occurred


  • Professor Jeffreys is first to discover DNA Fingerprinting  (September 10 1984)


  • First immigration case solved by DNA fingerprinting
  • First paternity case solved by DNA fingerprinting
  • First identification of identical twins using DNA fingerprinting


  • First criminal investigation to implement DNA fingerprinting evidence


  • First detailed description of the rate of mutation in humans at the DNA level

Early 1990s

  • First to develop sperm analysis technology


  • Identification of Josef Mengele by DNA analysis from skeletal remains


  • Professor Jeffreys contributes to work by Professor Yuri Dubrova investigating mutations caused by the Chernobyl disaster


  • First to describe in detail what a recombination ‘hotspot’ is


  • Work contributing to the ‘International HapMap Project’

Subsequent work

  • Further analysis of recombination hotspots, what causes them and what affects they have on human genetic diversity?
  • The implications of recombination on genes linked to diseases such as thalassaemia and diabetes


More information:

An interview with Sir Alec:

A piece by Professor Mark Jobling:

The legacy of Leicester-DNA fingerprinting:

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