Sir Edwin Southern FRS
Edwin Southern is a molecular biologist and biochemist who researches the structure and function of DNA. He is the inventor of the Southern blot, a now widespread technique for DNA analysis that measures the number of copies of a particular gene in a sample and has proved to be a major methodological step forward in genetics.
The Southern blot and other microarrays that Edwin developed have contributed to the emergence of genomics as a specific field by enabling the rapid analysis of the status of each gene in a cell. Edwin has also cultivated an interest in crop breeding with the aim of helping subsistence farmers in the developing world by producing plants with resistance to common diseases and parasites.
Edwin is the founder of two charities, promoting natural science education and research and scientific education in schools. He funds these philanthropic endeavours with the royalties received from licensing the DNA microarrays he developed during his scientific career.
In recognition of his development of the method of transferring spatial patterns of DNA fragments from the electrophoretic separation medium to membranes on which the hybridisation could occur known as southern blotting, now a fundamental technique in molecular biology. He is noted also for his leading role in investigating the relationship between specific sequences and chromosome structure and sequence analysis by oligonucleotide hybridisation.