Sir Alec Jeffreys CH FMedSci FRS

Alec Jeffreys is a now-retired geneticist who was one of the first to discover inherited variation in human DNA. He developed the milestone techniques of genetic fingerprinting and profiling, using variations in the genetic code to uniquely identify people. These are now widely used in forensic science and paternity testing, and have directly affected the lives of over 50,000,000 people worldwide.

Alec went on to investigate how variation in DNA comes about when DNA is transmitted from parent to child. He developed new methods to characterise rare new mutations in DNA as well as places in chromosomes where DNA is reshuffled by recombination. He identified recombination hotspots where most reshuffling occurs and carried out pioneering work to understand how these hotspots work.

Alec was knighted in 1994 for services to science and technology.

Subject groups

  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology

    Population genetics


  • Bernal Lecture

    On 'Molecular sleuthing: the story of DNA fingerprinting'.

  • Copley Medal

    For his pioneering work on variation and mutation in the human genome.

  • Croonian Medal and Lecture

    On 'Genetic fingerprinting and beyond'.

  • Davy Medal

    In recognition of his contributions to the chemistry of human DNA - in particular the discovery and exploitation of hypervariable satellites in the human genome.

  • Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine

    No citation available for this award.

  • Royal Medals

    For his outstanding discoveries and inventions which have had major impacts on large areas of genetics. He is best known for the introduction of DNA analysis to forensic science, contributing not only the theoretical framework for application but also the

  • Rutherford Memorial Lecture

    Given in Singapore.

Sir Alec Jeffreys CH FMedSci FRS
Elected 1986