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Adam Rutherford (born 1974/1975)[3] is a British geneticist, author, and broadcaster. He was an editor for the journal Nature for a decade, is a frequent contributor to the newspaper The Guardian, hosts the BBC Radio 4 programme Inside Science, has produced several science documentaries and has published books related to genetics and the origin of life.

Adam Rutherford
Adam Rutherford QED 02.jpg
Adam Rutherford at QED 2013
Born 1974/1975 (age 42–43)
Ipswich, Suffolk, England
Occupation Geneticist, author, broadcaster
Education PhD
Alma mater UCL Institute of Child Health
Subject Genetics
Notable works Creation: The Origin of Life / The Future of Life;[1]
BBC Radio 4: Inside Science[2]
Children 3


Early life and academic careerEdit

Rutherford, who is half Guyanese Indian,[4] was born in Ipswich in the East of England[5] and attended Ipswich School.[3]

He was admitted to the medical school at University College London, but transferred to a degree in evolutionary genetics,[3] including a project under Steve Jones studying stalk-eyed flies.[6][7] He completed a Ph.D. in genetics at UCL Institute of Child Health at Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2002. His PhD thesis subject was the role of a specific gene (CHX10) on eye development, with focus on the effect of mutations in this gene on the development of eye disorders.[8]

Rutherford's other academic research was also on genetic causes of eye disorders, including the relation of retinoschisin to retinoschisis,[9] the role of mutations of the gene CRX in retinal dystrophy,[10] and the role of the gene CHX10 in microphthalmia in humans and mice.[11][12]

Writing and editingEdit

Rutherford published a book on the topic of the creation of life. The United Kingdom printing has been called "two books in one",[13] since Creation: The Origin of Life and Creation: The Future of Life[1] are printed back-to-back so that one can read the book from either end.[14] Among its topics, the first part of the book argues in support of the theory, first proposed by Thomas Gold, that life emerged not in primordial warm ponds, but in extremophile conditions in the deep ocean,[15] while the second part discusses "synthetic biology" – the use of genetic modification to create new organisms.[16] In the United States this book is published in a more conventional format with the title, Creation: How Science Is Reinventing Life Itself.[17] He was also one of the authors whose works are included in the compilation The Atheist's Guide to Christmas.[18][19]

Rutherford was the Podcast Editor[20] and the audio-video editor for the journal Nature until 2013, responsible for all the publication's published audio, video, and podcasts. He also published audio interviews with notable personalities, including Paul Bettany on his role playing Charles Darwin in the movie Creation,[21] and David Attenborough on his documentary Charles Darwin and the Tree of Life.[22] He wrote editorials on other diverse topics ranging from the overlap of Art and Science[23] to reviews of science-themed movies.[24]

Rutherford is a frequent contributor to The Guardian, writing primarily on science topics.[25] He wrote a blog series covering his thoughts and analysis while re-reading Darwin's On the Origin of Species,[26] and has written articles supporting the teaching of evolution in schools,[27][28] and criticizing the teaching of creationism as science.[29]

He also writes on religion, notably a 10-part series on his experience participating in the Alpha course,[30] and on New Age themes and alternative medicine, including a review critical of Rupert Sheldrake's A New Science of Life,[31] and criticism of the lack of controls on advertising claims for homeopathy.[32]

As a guest writer, he published an article in Wired on the possibility of using DNA for information storage.[33]


Rutherford frequently appears on BBC science programmes, on both radio and television.[6] Since 2013 he has been the host[34] of the program Inside Science on BBC Radio 4.[2] In 2012 he was featured on the series Horizon on BBC Two television in the documentary Playing God,[35] which covered synthetic biology using the example of the "Spider Goat", a goat genetically modified to produce spider silk in its milk.[36] In 2011 he presented, on BBC Four, The Gene Code,[37] a two-part series on the implications of the decoding of the human genome,[38] and his documentary, Science Betrayed,[39] detailed the story of the discredited link between the MMR vaccine and autism.[40] In 2010, The Cell, his 3-part series on the discovery of cells and the development of cell biology,[41] presented on BBC Four,[42] was included in the Daily Telegraph's list of "10 classic science programmes".[43] In 2006, Discovery Science produced the six-episode TV series, Men in White, in which three scientists, Rutherford, Basil Singer, and Jem Stansfield applied science to the solution of everyday problems.[3]

He also appeared in BBC Radio 4's The Infinite Monkey Cage, with physicist Brian Cox, physician and science writer Ben Goldacre, author Simon Singh, musician Tim Minchin, and comedians Helen Arney and Robin Ince, and with The Infinite Monkey Cage Tour, the live show based on the programme.[44] Rutherford is a frequent guest on the Little Atoms radio chat show,[45] and he has also acted as a science advisor on programmes such as The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, and the film World War Z.[6] In 2011 he conceived and directed Space Shuttles United,[46] a video and musical tribute to all the space shuttle missions.[47]

Public speaking and outreachEdit

Adam Rutherford speaking at QEDCon 2013, on the Origin and the Future of Life.

Rutherford is a frequent speaker at scientific and academic events.[48]

In 2013 he was an invited speaker at the QED conference in Manchester[49] and at the 2013 North East Postgraduate Conference,[50] and he delivered the 11th Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture at the Royal Geographical Society in London for Save the Rhino International.[51][52] In 2012 he delivered the annual Darwin Day Lecture for the British Humanist Association.[53]

Rutherford was a judge and host of the award ceremonies for the 2012 and 2013 Google Science Fairs.[54] He is also a frequent guest at local science and sceptical events, such as Skeptics in the Pub.[55][56][57]

In June 2017, Rutherford participated in a public discussion with Alan Alda at the University of Dundee, on the occasion of Alda's receiving an honorary degree from that institution.[48]

In November 2017, he participated in a debate with Prof. Robert Winston on the subject of superhumans at the University of Southampton.[58]

Awards and honoursEdit

  • 2014 Wellcome Book Prize shortlist for Creation: The Origin of Life[59][60]
  • Because of his scientific, film, and musical experience, Rutherford has an Erdős-Bacon-Sabbath[61] number of 15.[62]


  • Creation: The Origin of Life / The Future of Life (2014)
  • A Brief History of Everyone who Ever Lived (2016)


  1. ^ a b Rutherford, Adam (2013-04-04), Creation: The Origin of Life / The Future of Life, Viking, p. 272, ISBN 0670920444 
  2. ^ a b Rutherford, A, BBC 4 "Inside Science" Series 
  3. ^ a b c d "One of the zany Men in White". East Anglian Daily Times. 4 October 2006. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Rutherford, Adam (22 May 2012). "World Goth Day has roused dark memories in me". The Guardian. 
  5. ^ "Bin Laden more deadly as a martyr". Ipswich Star. May 6, 2011. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "Dr Adam Rutherford presents Radio 4's Inside Science", BBC Radio 4 
  7. ^ David, Patrice; Hingle, Andrew; Greig, Duncan; Rutherford, Adam; Pomiankowski, Andrew; Fowler, Kevin (1998), "Male sexual ornament size but not asymmetry reflects condition in stalk–eyed flies" (PDF), Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 265 (1411): 2211–2216, doi:10.1098/rspb.1998.0561, ISSN 0962-8452 
  8. ^ Rutherford, AD (2002), "The role of CHX10 in the development of the mammalian retina", 
  9. ^ Grayson, Celene; Reid, Silvia NM; Ellis, Juliet A; Rutherford, Adam; Sowden, Jane C; Yates, John RW; Farber, Debora B; Trump, Dorothy (2000), "Retinoschisin, the X-linked retinoschisis protein, is a secreted photoreceptor protein, and is expressed and released by Weri–Rb1 cells", Human Molecular Genetics, 9 (12): 1873–1879, doi:10.1093/hmg/9.12.1873, ISSN 0964-6906, PMID 10915776 
  10. ^ Bibb, Lindsay C; Holt, James KL; Tarttelin, Emma E; Hodges, Matthew D; Gregory-Evans, Kevin; Rutherford, Adam; Lucas, Robert J; Sowden, Jane C; Gregory-Evans, Cheryl Y (2001), "Temporal and spatial expression patterns of the CRX transcription factor and its downstream targets. Critical differences during human and mouse eye development", Human Molecular Genetics, 10 (15): 1571–1579, doi:10.1093/hmg/10.15.1571, ISSN 0964-6906, PMID 11468275 
  11. ^ Percin, E Ferda; Ploder, Lynda A; Jessica, J Yu; Arici, Kemal; Horsford, D Jonathan; Rutherford, Adam; Bapat, Bharati; Cox, Diane W; Duncan, Alessandra MV; Kalnins, Vitauts I (2000), "Human microphthalmia associated with mutations in the retinal homeobox gene CHX10", Nature Genetics, 25 (4): 397–401, doi:10.1038/78071, PMID 10932181 
  12. ^ Rutherford, Adam D; Dhomen, Nathalie; Smith, Hazel K; Sowden, Jane C (2004), "Delayed expression of the Crx gene and photoreceptor development in the Chx10-deficient retina", Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 45 (2): 375–384, doi:10.1167/iovs.03-0332, ISSN 1552-5783 
  13. ^ Lane, Nick (2013-04-06), "Creation: The Origin of Life; The Future of Life, by Adam Rutherford – review", The Observer 
  14. ^ Lezard, N (2014-01-28), "Creation: The Origin of Life/The Future of Life by Adam Rutherford – review", The Guardian, retrieved 2014-02-02 
  15. ^ Forbes, Peter (2013-03-27), "Creation: The Origin of Life/The Future of Life by Adam Rutherford – review", The Guardian 
  16. ^ Long, Karen (2013-06-21), "'Creation' explains how science reinvents life", Los Angeles Times 
  17. ^ Rutherford, Adam (2014-05-27), Creation: How Science Is Reinventing Life Itself, Current, p. 288, ISBN 1617230111 
  18. ^ The Atheist's Guide to Christmas, Harper-Collins, 2010-11-02, p. 307, ISBN 9780061997976 
  19. ^ Holland, Jessica (2010-10-24), "The Atheist's Guide to Christmas by various authors – review", The Guardian 
  20. ^ Archive by author: Adam Rutherford 
  21. ^ Rutherford, Adam (2009), "Q&A: Getting under Darwin's skin", Nature, 457 (7233): 1087–1087, Bibcode:2009Natur.457.1087R, doi:10.1038/4571087b, ISSN 0028-0836, PMID 19242459 
  22. ^ Rutherford, Adam (2009), "Q&A: Building on paradise", Nature, 457 (7232): 967–967, Bibcode:2009Natur.457..967R, doi:10.1038/457967a, ISSN 0028-0836, PMID 19225509 
  23. ^ Abbott, Alison; Rutherford, Adam (2005), "Editorial: Artists on science: scientists on art", Nature, 434 (7031): 293–293, Bibcode:2005Natur.434..293A, doi:10.1038/434293a, ISSN 0028-0836 
  24. ^ Rutherford, Adam (2003), "Cinema: Return of the mutants", Nature, 423 (6936): 119–119, Bibcode:2003Natur.423..119R, doi:10.1038/423119b, ISSN 0028-0836 
  25. ^ Guardian, The, Adam Rutherford 
  26. ^ Rutherford, AD (2008-02-09), "Blogging Darwin", The Guardian 
  27. ^ Rutherford, AD (2008-11-07), "The evolution of science teaching", The Guardian 
  28. ^ Rutherford, AD (2009-01-05), "Evolution: the rules of engagement", The Guardian 
  29. ^ Rutherford, AD (2009-02-02), Fools rush in 
  30. ^ Rutherford, AD (2009), "Alpha Male", The Guardian 
  31. ^ Rutherford, AD (2009-02-06), "A book for ignoring", The Guardian 
  32. ^ Rutherford, AD (2009-10-23), Who's afraid of a homeopath's woo? 
  33. ^ Rutherford, AD (2013-07-11), "What better way to store data than zipped in DNA files", Wired 
  34. ^ Rutherford, AD (2013-07-04), "Radio 4 launches new weekly science show, Inside Science", The Guardian 
  35. ^ Rutherford, AD (2012-01-14), "Synthetic biology and the rise of the 'spider-goats'", The Observer 
  36. ^ Marszal, Andrew (2012-01-17), "Horizon: Playing God, BBC Two, review", The Telegraph 
  37. ^ 4, BBC Radio, "The Gene Code", BBC Radio 4 
  38. ^ Raeburn, Sandy (2011-05-09), "TV Review: The Gene Code – The Book of Life / Unlocking the Code", 
  39. ^ Rutherford, AD (2011-03-17), Science Betrayed 
  40. ^ "Science Betrayed: Reflections on research misconduct", BioethicsBytes, 2011-04-04 
  41. ^ Rutherford, A, BBC Four: The Cell 
  42. ^ Wilson, B (2009-08-12), The Cell (BBC Four): TV review 
  43. ^ "Ten classic science programmes", The Telegraph, 2010-12-14 
  44. ^ Hollingshead, Iain (2011-12-10), "Brian Cox and co: sexy science pulls in the crowds", The Telegraph 
  45. ^ Atoms, L, Adam Rutherford on Little Atoms 
  46. ^ "Our love letter to the Shuttle", Of Schemes and Memes Blog, Nature Publishing Group, 2011-07-21 
  47. ^ Rutherford, A (2011-07-21), "Space shuttles united – a video tribute", The Guardian 
  48. ^ a b Dundee, University of. "An Evening With Alan Alda : Events". University of Dundee. Retrieved 2017-06-21. 
  49. ^ "Creation: the Origin and the Future of Life", 
  50. ^ "From Chuck D to Chuck D: Evolution, synthetic biology and the story of hip hop", 2013 North East Postgraduate Conference, 2013, archived from the original on 2014-03-05 
  51. ^ The eleventh Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture – Dr Adam Rutherford & Stephen Mangan, 2013-03-01 
  52. ^ Rutherford, AD (2013-03-12), "Eleventh Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture", British Science Association, archived from the original on 2013-11-21 
  53. ^ "Darwin Day Lecture 2012", The Pod Delusion, 2012 
  54. ^ Sager, Christian, "Who Judges Genius in Google's 2013 Science Fair?", Stuff of Genius 
  55. ^ Jago, Crispian (2011-04-23), Adam Rutherford at Winchester Skeptics in the Pub 
  56. ^ "Synthetic biology, hip hop and the law", Soho Skeptics, 2013-02-14 
  57. ^ "From Chuck D to Chuck D: Hip Hop, Remixing and Synthetic Biology", Norwich Skeptics in the Pub, 2014-02-06 
  58. ^ "IDS 10th Anniversary Event". University of Southampton. 
  59. ^ "Andrew Motion announces shortlist for the Wellcome Book Prize 2014", Wellcome Trust, 25 February 2014, retrieved February 26, 2014 
  60. ^ GrrlScientist (26 February 2014), "Wellcome Trust's Book Prize 2014 shortlist announced", The Guardian, retrieved February 26, 2014 
  61. ^ O'Connor, S (2011), "Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath Numbers: The People at the Center of the Universe", TimeBlimp 
  62. ^ Erdős-Bacon-Sabbath Project: Adam Rutherford 

External linksEdit