Edwin Southern : biography
Sir Edwin Mellor Southern, FRS (born 7 June 1938) is an English 2005 Lasker Award-winning molecular biologist. His award was for the invention of the Southern blot, now a common laboratory procedure, when he was working at the University of Edinburgh.
Southern was born in Burnley, Lancashire and educated at Burnley Grammar School. He had a brother named John Southern. He went on to read Chemistry at the University of Manchester (BSc Hons., 1958). He continued as a graduate student (then Demonstrator, 1963) in the Department of Chemistry, University of Glasgow, where he was awarded his PhD in 1962.
In 1990, Southern was one of the winners of the Gairdner Foundation International Award. In 1998 he was awarded the Royal Medal of the Royal Society of London. He was made a Knight Bachelor in the June 2003 Birthday Honours for services to the development of DNA microarray technologies. In 2005 he was awarded the prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research, jointly with Alec Jeffreys of the University of Leicester for his invention of the Southern blot. In 2005 he was also awarded the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities Award for outstanding contributions to Biomolecular Technologies.
Southern is Professor of Biochemistry (Emeritus) at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Trinity College, Oxford.
Southern is also the Founder, Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer of Oxford Gene Technology. He is also the founder and chairman of a Scottish charity, The Kirkhouse Trust, which aims to promote education and research in the Natural Sciences, particularly the biological and medical sciences. In addition the Edina Trust was founded to promote science in schools. These charities are financed using royalty income from licensing microarray technology.
The Southern blot is used for DNA analysis and was routinely used for genetic fingerprinting and paternity testing prior to the development of microsatellite markers for this purpose. The procedure is also frequently used to determine the number of copies of a gene in the genome. The concepts of the Southern blot were used in the development and creation of the modern microarray slide, which is a promising experimental tool. The northern blot is a similar procedure for RNA, playing off the Southern name. The western blot is a further pun on the Southern blot, but is an important research tool in protein detection.
Southern founded Oxford Gene Technology (OGT), a company that developed DNA microarray technology. OGT won a 1999 patent infringement lawsuit against Affymetrix based on his patent holdings in microarray technology.
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