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Inventor of DNA fingerprinting Wins Accolades

Professor Sir Alec Jeffrey, Royal Society Wolfson Research Professor and inventor of DNA Fingerprinting at the University of Leicester, wins prestigious// international accolade which will be awarded to him later this year.

He is to be awarded the Dr H.P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics 2006 by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in recognition of the discovery of the revolutionary technique.

The Dr H.P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics ($150,000) is one of six prizes in sciences and arts to be presented on Thursday 28 September 2006 during a special session of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences at the Beurs van Berlage Building in Amsterdam.

A statement on the award pays tribute to Sir Alec's invention: ‘Since his discovery, it has been possible to identify every individual from any cell in his or her body, the only exception being identical twins, who share the same DNA pattern. The consequences of Jeffreys' discovery have been so far-reaching and rapid that it is virtually impossible to imagine the world without it. His technique - DNA fingerprinting - allows us to answer such questions as: Who is the biological father of a child? Whose blood, sweat, hair or sperm has been left behind at the scene of a crime? Who is this tsunami victim? Are these bones truly the remains of the last Czar of Russia? Jeffreys' technique was even able to tell us whether Dolly was in fact the clone of another sheep.

‘The new discipline of forensic molecular biology is therefore a direct outcome of Jeffreys' research, but his discoveries have also opened up other doors, for example the ability to determine whether someone is a carrier of certain pathogenic genes. Most recently, Jeffreys has concentrated on genetic mutations and environmental factors. He is, for example, studying how irradiation may have caused genetic mutations in families from Chernobyl.’

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