Alec Jeffreys

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Sir Alec John Jeffreys, FRS (born 9 January 1950 at Oxford in Oxfordshire) is a British geneticist, who developed techniques for DNA fingerprinting and DNA profiling which are now used all over the world in forensic science to assist police detective work, and also to resolve paternity and immigration disputes.[1] He is a professor of genetics at the University of Leicester,[2] and he became an honorary freeman of the City of Leicester on 26 November 1992.[3] In 1994, he was knighted by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, for Services to Science and Technology .


Early life

Jeffreys was born on 9 January 1950 in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England.[4] He came from a middle-class family and has one brother and sister. He spent the first six years of his life in Oxford until 1956 when the family moved to Luton. His curiosity and inventiveness were probably gained from his father, as well as his paternal grandfather who had a number of patents to his name.[1] When he was eight years old his father gave him a large chemistry set which was enhanced over the next few years with extra chemicals including a bottle of concentrated sulphuric acid, bought from a pharmacy, at a time when pharmacists were less regulated than now.[1] He liked making small explosions, but an accidental splash of sulphuric acid caused a burn and a permanent scar on his chin (now under his beard).[1] When he was about eight or nine years old, his father bought him a beautiful Victorian brass microscope,[5] which he used to examine biological specimens, furthering his interest in biology.[1] At about 12 years old he made a small dissecting kit (including a scalpel crafted from a flattened pin) which he used to dissect a bumblebee, but he got into trouble with his parents when he progressed to dissecting a larger specimen. One Sunday morning he found a dead cat on the road while doing his paper round and took it home in his bag. He started to dissect it before Sunday lunch on the dining room table causing a foul smell throughout the house, which was particularly bad after he ruptured its intestines.[1]

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