Albert Lasker
Clinical Medical Research Award

Acceptance Remarks by Edwin Southern

Edwin Southern

My big contribution to science was the discovery that blotting paper could be used to soak liquid out of jelly. I wouldn't be here today if others had not found clever applications for this simple discovery and I'm delighted to share this prestigious award with Alec Jeffreys who used the method to make the most important discovery that genes have a split structure—the introns in eukaryotic genes—and he also developed his famous fingerprinting method from it. But there have been others. I get a little bit of credit for each application, as there have been many, colleagues have been generous in their acknowledgement, and the credit has mounted up over the years. I hope that anyone who has used the method, learning of this award, will feel that they have earned a share in it.

The molecular sciences have brought wonderful progress to biology and medicine in recent decades. It has been a privilege to have lived through this period and to have played a part in it. But this is a beginning. There is much to be done now that we have easy means to read gene sequences and to exploit them. Progress will need new methods, but methods development is not always given the recognition it deserves. I hope that this prestigious award from the Lasker Foundation will encourage others to engage in this most rewarding aspect of science.