New Year's Honour: Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys appointed Companion of Honour

Posted by pt91 at Dec 30, 2016 10:34 PM |
‘Father of genetic fingerprinting’ is one of only 65 people in the world to hold rare distinction

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 30 December 2016

An image of Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys is available here (Credit University of Leicester):

World-renowned scientists Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, who discovered genetic fingerprinting at the University of Leicester, has been awarded a special distinction in The Queen’s New Year’s Honours.

Sir Alec, who is an Emeritus Professor of the Department of Genetics at the University of Leicester, has been appointed as a Companion of Honour. Only 65 people in the world can hold this distinction at any one time.

The Companion of Honour is a special award granted to those who have made a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine, or government lasting over a long period of time. Sir Alec is recognised for his contribution to medical research and society.

Sir Alec joins members including Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough in holding the distinction.

Sir Alec said: “I am delighted by this wonderful and wholly unexpected honour. More importantly it is a great tribute to genetics and forensic science and to my many colleagues in Leicester and beyond who helped turn an accidental by-product of curiosity-driven blue-skies research into technologies that have reached out and profoundly touched the lives of millions of people worldwide.”

Professor Paul Boyle, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester said: “This is a tremendous accolade for Sir Alec and a testament to his world-class achievements at the University of Leicester. We share in his pride in being accorded this rare honour which also brings distinction to the University.

“The University has already accorded Sir Alec its highest distinction and named a research centre in his name.  The University now, with city partners, is examining the feasibility of establishing a visitor attraction in Leicester based in part on his world class work.

The pursuit of knowledge and quest for excellence is exemplified in Sir Alec’s life and work. What Sir Alec achieved at Leicester 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. He is an inspiration to others.”

Founded in 1917, the Companion of Honour has the following motor: "In action faithful and in honour clear." Members carry the rank and post-nominal (CH).

About Sir Alec

Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, is one of Britain’s leading scientists known as the ‘Father of Genetic Fingerprinting’. He announced his retirement from the University of Leicester in 2012 after 35 years’ service and continues his association with the University as Emeritus Professor.

Professor Jeffreys, who invented the revolutionary technique of DNA fingerprinting at the University of Leicester in 1984, has achieved global accolades and impact from his discovery which has transformed forensic science and identity testing.

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.

Professor Jeffreys joined the Department of Genetics in 1977 as a Lecturer, and has remained at Leicester since where he has held the positions of Professor of Genetics and Royal Society Wolfson Research Professor.  While studying variation in human DNA in 1984 he discovered variation in minisatellites, and developed DNA fingerprinting. Shortly afterwards he demonstrated that the technology had a host of applications ranging from criminal investigations, paternity and immigration disputes through to conservation biology.  In more recent years, Professor Jeffreys has made key contributions to our  understanding of fundamental processes of change in the human genome.

Professor Jeffreys’s work has received widespread recognition, including a Knighthood for services to science and technology in 1994 and the title of Honorary Freeman of the City of Leicester in 1993.  He has received numerous other honours, accolades and awards during his career, including election to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1986.

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