Edwin Southern

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Sir Edwin Southern
Edwin Mellor Southern - journal.pgen.1003344.g001.png
Sir Edwin in 2012
Born (1938-06-07) 7 June 1938 (age 76)[citation needed]
Burnley, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Fields Molecular Biology
Institutions University of Oxford
University of Edinburgh
Alma mater University of Manchester
University of Glasgow
Thesis Studies on synthetic and naturally occurring enzyme metabolites (1964)
Known for Inventor of the Southern blot
Notable awards Gairdner Foundation International Award (1990)
Royal Medal (1998)
Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research (2005)
Fellow of the Royal Society

Sir Edwin Mellor Southern, FRS (born 7 June 1938)[1] is an English 2005 Lasker Award-winning molecular biologist. His award was for the invention of the Southern blot,[2] now a common laboratory procedure, when he was working at the University of Edinburgh.[3][4][5][6][7][8]

Early life[edit]

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.


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.

Southern blot[edit]

Main article: Southern blot

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 an extensively used 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.

DNA microarray[edit]

Main article: DNA microarray

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.[9]


In 1990, Southern was one of the winners of the Gairdner Foundation International Award.[10] In 1998 he was awarded the Royal Medal of the Royal Society of London.[11] 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,[1][12] jointly with Alec Jeffreys of the University of Leicester for his invention of the Southern blot.[13] In 2005 he was also awarded the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities Award for outstanding contributions to Biomolecular Technologies.[14]


  1. ^ a b Southern, E. (2005). "Tools for genomics". Nature Medicine 11 (10): 1029–1034. doi:10.1038/nm1005-1029. PMID 16211028.  edit
  2. ^ Southern, E. M. (1975). "Detection of specific sequences among DNA fragments separated by gel electrophoresis". Journal of Molecular Biology 98 (3): 503–517. doi:10.1016/S0022-2836(75)80083-0. PMID 1195397.  edit
  3. ^ Gitschier, J. (2013). "Problem Solved: An Interview with Sir Edwin Southern". PLoS Genetics 9 (3): e1003344. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003344. PMID 23516371.  edit
  4. ^ Southern, E.; Mir, K.; Shchepinov, M. (1999). "Molecular interactions on microarrays". Nature Genetics 21 (1 Suppl): 5–9. doi:10.1038/4429. PMID 9915493.  edit
  5. ^ Southern, E. (1979). "Gel electrophoresis of restriction fragments". Methods in enzymology. Methods in Enzymology 68: 152–176. doi:10.1016/0076-6879(79)68011-4. ISBN 9780121819682. PMID 232210.  edit
  6. ^ Maskos, U.; Southern, E. M. (1992). "Oligonucleotide hybridisations on glass supports: A novel linker for oligonucleotide synthesis and hybridisation properties of oligonucleotides synthesised in situ". Nucleic Acids Research 20 (7): 1679–1684. doi:10.1093/nar/20.7.1679. PMC 312256. PMID 1579459.  edit
  7. ^ Milner, N.; Mir, K. U.; Southern, E. M. (1997). "Selecting effective antisense reagents on combinatorial oligonucleotide arrays". Nature Biotechnology 15 (6): 537–541. doi:10.1038/nbt0697-537. PMID 9181575.  edit
  8. ^ Bird, A. P.; Southern, E. M. (1978). "Use of restriction enzymes to study eukaryotic DNA methylation: I. The methylation pattern in ribosomal DNA from Xenopus laevis". Journal of Molecular Biology 118 (1): 27–47. doi:10.1016/0022-2836(78)90242-5. PMID 625056.  edit
  9. ^ Harding, A. (2005). "Sir Edwin Southern: Scientist as problem solver". The Lancet 366 (9501): 1919–1913. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)67775-6.  edit
  10. ^ "List of winners". The Gairdner Foundation. Archived from the original on December 30, 2007. Retrieved 19 December 2007. 
  11. ^ "Royal recent winners". The Royal Society. Retrieved 20 December 2007. 
  12. ^ "2005 Albert Lasker Award - Acceptance remarks by Edwin Southern". Lasker Foundation. Retrieved 19 December 2007. 
  13. ^ "2005 Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research". Lasker Foundation. Archived from the original on December 11, 2007. Retrieved 19 December 2007. 
  14. ^ "ABRF Award". Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities. Retrieved 19 December 2007. 

External links[edit]