Edwin Southern

Sir Edwin Mellor Southern FRS FRSE (born 7 June 1938)[4] is an English Lasker Award-winning molecular biologist, Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Trinity College, Oxford. He is most widely known for the invention of the Southern blot, published in 1975[5] and now a common laboratory procedure.[6][7][8][9]

Sir Edwin Southern

Sir Edwin in 2012
Edwin Mellor Southern

(1938-06-07) 7 June 1938[1]
Burnley, United Kingdom
Alma mater
Known forSouthern blot
Scientific career
FieldsMolecular Biology
ThesisStudies on synthetic and naturally occurring enzyme metabolites (1964)
Doctoral studentsRobin Allshire[3]

Early life and education

Southern was born in Burnley, Lancashire and educated at Burnley Grammar School.[1] He has a brother named John Southern and a sister Kay Monie. 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.[10]

Career and Research

Southern is also the founder and chairman of Oxford Gene Technology. He is also the founder (in 2000) 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, and the Edina Trust, which was founded to promote science in schools.[11][12] These charities are financed using royalty income from licensing microarray technology.

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, western blot and eastern blot, related procedures for the analysis of RNA, protein and post-translational modification of proteins, respectively, are all puns on Southern's name. Yes

DNA microarray

Southern founded Oxford Gene Technology (OGT) in 1995,[2] a company that developed DNA microarray technology. OGT won a 1999 patent infringement lawsuit against Affymetrix based on his patent holdings in microarray technology.[13]

Awards and honours

In 1990, Southern was one of the winners of the Gairdner Foundation International Award.[14] In 1998 he was awarded the Royal Medal of the Royal Society of London.[15] 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,[4][16] jointly with Alec Jeffreys of the University of Leicester for his invention of the Southern blot.[17] In 2005 he was also awarded the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities Award for outstanding contributions to Biomolecular Technologies.[18] In 2012, he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh[19]. His nomination for the Royal Society reads:

Dr. Southern has done pioneering work on the organization of DNA sequences in chromosomes. Apart from studies on crab poly-AT carried out in the early 1960s, Southern was the first to determine the nucleotide sequence of a eukaryotic chromosomal DNA fraction, demonstrating that a guinea pig 'satellite' had an unexpectedly simple repetitive structure based on a sequence of six nucleotides. In mouse satellite DNA he showed both short and long range periodicities. These and other studies on repetitive DNA he showed both short and long range periodicities. These and other studies on repetitive DNA sequences enabled him to suggest how non-coding chromosomal DNA may have evolved. Southern has devised valuable methods for DNA analysis. His 'blot' technique, for the identification of specific sequences among large populations of fragments generated by endonucleases, has found extremely widespread and important applications. He has also made important observations on the differential transcription of DNA sequences into RNA, and on patterns of DNA methylation.[20]


  1. "Edwin Southern CV" (PDF). Roche. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 April 2012.
  2. "Professor Sir Edwin Southern – Founder, Chairman and Chief Science Advisor". Oxford Gene Technology. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015.
  3. Allshire, Robin Campbell (1985). Construction and analysis of vectors based on bovine papilloma virus (PhD thesis). University of Edinburgh. hdl:1842/11176. OCLC 606010479. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.355979.
  4. Southern, E. (2005). "Tools for genomics". Nature Medicine. 11 (10): 1029–1034. doi:10.1038/nm1005-1029. PMID 16211028.
  5. 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.
  6. Southern, E.; Mir, K.; Shchepinov, M. (1999). "Molecular interactions on microarrays". Nature Genetics. 21 (1 Suppl): 5–9. doi:10.1038/4429. PMID 9915493.
  7. Southern, E. (1979). "Gel electrophoresis of restriction fragments". Methods in Enzymology. 68: 152–176. doi:10.1016/0076-6879(79)68011-4. ISBN 9780121819682. PMID 232210. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Southern, Edwin Mellor (1964). Studies on synthetic and naturally occurring enzyme metabolites (PhD thesis). University of Glasgow. OCLC 181894527. ProQuest 301213660.
  11. Kirkhouse Trust
  12. Edina Trust
  13. Harding, A. (2005). "Sir Edwin Southern: Scientist as problem solver". The Lancet. 366 (9501): 1919. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)67775-6. PMID 16325686.
  14. "List of winners". The Gairdner Foundation. Archived from the original on 30 December 2007. Retrieved 19 December 2007.
  15. "Royal recent winners". The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 19 December 2007. Retrieved 20 December 2007.
  16. "2005 Albert Lasker Award – Acceptance remarks by Edwin Southern". Lasker Foundation. Archived from the original on 10 June 2008.
  17. "2005 Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research". Lasker Foundation. Archived from the original on 11 December 2007. Retrieved 19 December 2007.
  18. "ABRF Award". Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities. Archived from the original on 22 November 2007.
  19. "Professor Sir Edwin Mellor Southern FRS HonFRSE - The Royal Society of Edinburgh". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  20. "EC/1983/34: Southern, Edwin Mellor". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015.
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