'Why DNA fingerprinting should top 100-year poll'
Sir Alec Jeffreys' discovery of genetic fingerprinting is in the running to be named the most important British scientific innovation in the past 100 years.
The University of Leicester professor's breakthrough in 1984 has revolutionised criminal justice around the world.
Now it is has been included in an online poll run to mark National Science and Engineering week.
People can vote for the next two days on what they think is the most important innovation in science and technology from the past 100 years and the one most likely to shape the future.
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Professor Turi King, a lecturer in genetics and archaeology at the university, is hoping people will vote genetic fingerprinting to the top spot.
She said: "The difference genetic fingerprinting has made is huge. It is not just used in criminal cases – in fact most times it will exonerate people, and it has helped to save people from death row.
"It is widely used in animal conservation and breeding programmes to help protect endangered species. "The technique means we can now join family trees together.
"Sir Alec is one of the most modest men you can come across and yet he is one of the biggest names in science."
Writing for the Mercury last year, Sir Alec said: "I have to say I am amazed at how the DNA technology has reached out round the entire world and has touched the lives of millions of people directly."
His discovery has helped with the capture and conviction of countless rapists, murderers and other criminal, as well as allowing those wrongly accused of crimes to prove their innocence – including some on Death Row.
One of the highest-profile cases solved through Sir Alec's discovery was the murder of two Leicestershire schoolgirls in the 1980s.
Genetic fingerprinting helped detectives catch killer Colin Pitchfork and he became the first man jailed on DNA evidence. Pitchfork's DNA sample matched those found with his victims Lynda Mann, 15, who was found near her home in Narborough in 1983, and Dawn Ashworth who was killed three years later.
Three years ago, genetic fingerprinting was recognised as the "second most important discovery in the history of scientific research" in a poll among academics.
Other contenders in this week's poll include anti-rejection therapy, which has been key to successful organ donation; discovery of the ARM chip, the processor used in smartphones, computers and computer tablets, along with the Mini car and the jet engine.
The winner of the poll will be announced on Monday .