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W. Ford Doolittle Biochemist

W. Ford Doolittle’s research focuses on the evolution of genes and genomes, and is best known for proposing a “web of life” in place of a “tree of life” evolutionary model. His research group uses standard molecular genetics methods and computer algorithms to reconstruct evolutionary branches through gene sequencing.


HSERC Herzberg Medal, 2014.

Elected member of the U.S. NAS, 2002.

Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, 1991.

Relevant Publications

O. Zhaxybayeva and W. F. Doolittle, "Lateral gene transfer," Curr. Biol. vol. 21, no. 7, pp. R242-R246, April 2011.

M. W. Gray et al, "Irremediable complexity?," Science, vol. 330, no. 6006, pp. 920-921, Nov. 2010.



Advisor Integrated Microbial Biodiversity

Distinguished Fellow Integrated Microbial Biodiversity


Dalhousie UniversityDepartment of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology


PhD (Biological Sciences) Stanford University

BA (Biochemical Sciences) Harvard College



Ideas Related to W. Ford Doolittle

Webbing the tree of life

Charles Darwin’s “tree of life” begins with the trunk, representing a common ancestor that split off into branches as new...

Announcement | Learning in Machines & Brains

W. Ford Doolittle wins NSERC’s highest honour

CIFAR Distinguished Fellow W. Ford Doolittle has won the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) highest honour...