Johnjoe McFadden

Johnjoe McFadden (born 17 May 1956) is an Anglo-Irish scientist, academic and writer. He is Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Surrey, United Kingdom.

Johnjoe McFadden
Johnjoe McFadden headshot December 2014, Guildford, UK.jpeg
Born (1956-05-17) 17 May 1956 (age 66)
Alma materImperial College London
Known forDiagnosis of meningitis
Quantum biology
Systems biology
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Surrey
St Mary's Hospital Medical School
St George's, University of London
Doctoral advisorKen Buck


McFadden was born in Donegal, Ireland but raised in the UK. He holds joint British and Irish Nationality. He obtained his BSc in Biochemistry University of London in 1977 and his PhD at Imperial College London in 1982. He went on to work on human genetic diseases and then infectious diseases, at St Mary's Hospital Medical School, London (1982–84) and St George's Hospital Medical School, London (1984–88) and then at the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK.

For more than a decade, McFadden has researched the genetics of microbes such as the agents of tuberculosis and meningitis and invented a test for the diagnosis of meningitis. He has published more than 100 articles in scientific journals on subjects as wide-ranging as bacterial genetics, tuberculosis, idiopathic diseases and computer modelling of evolution. He has contributed to more than a dozen books and has edited a book on the genetics of mycobacteria. He produced a widely reported artificial life computer model which modelled evolution in organisms.

McFadden has lectured extensively in the UK, Europe, the US and Japan and his work has been featured on radio, television and national newspaper articles particularly for the Guardian. His present post, which he has held since 2001, is Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Surrey. Living in London, he is married and has one son.

Quantum evolutionEdit

McFadden wrote the popular science book, Quantum Evolution on the concept of quantum evolution.[1] The book examines the role of quantum mechanics in life, evolution and consciousness. The book has been described as offering an alternative evolutionary mechanism, beyond the neo-Darwinian framework.[2]

The book received positive reviews by Kirkus Reviews and Publishers Weekly.[3][4] It was negatively reviewed in the journal Heredity by evolutionary biologist Wallace Arthur.[5]


In 2006 McFadden co-edited the book, Human Nature: Fact and Fiction on the insights of both science and literature on human nature, with contributions from Ian McEwan, Philip Pullman, Steven Pinker, A.C. Grayling and others. [6]

in 2014 McFadden co-wrote the popular science book, Life on the Edge: The Coming Age of Quantum Biology, in which he and Jim Al-Khalili further explore quantum biology and particularly recent findings in photosynthesis, enzyme catalysis, avian navigation, olfaction, mutation and neurobiology. [7] The book received positive reviews, for example:

"'Life on the Edge’ gives the clearest account I’ve ever read of the possible ways in which the very small events of the quantum world can affect the world of middle-sized living creatures like us. With great vividness and clarity it shows how our world is tinged, even saturated, with the weirdness of the quantum." (Philip Pullman)
"Hugely ambitious ... the skill of the writing provides the uplift to keep us aloft as we fly through the strange and spectacular terra incognita of genuinely new science." (Tom Whipple The Times)

McFadden regularly writes articles for The Guardian newspaper[8] on topics as varied as quantum mechanics, evolution and genetically modified crops, and has reviewed books there. The Washington Post and Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung have also published his articles.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ McFadden, J. (2000). Quantum Evolution. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-00-255948-5.
  2. ^ Gunter, Pete. A. Y. (2006). Darwinism: Six Scientific Alternatives. The Pluralist 1 (1): 13-30.
  3. ^ "Quantum Evolution: The New Science of Life". Kirkus Reviews.
  4. ^ "Quantum Evolution: The New Science of Life". Publishers Weekly.
  5. ^ Arthur, Wallace. (2000). Quantum Evolution: The New Science of Life. Heredity 85: 99.
  6. ^ Headlam Wells, Robin; McFadden, Johnjoe (2006). Human Nature: Fact and Fiction. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 9780826485465.
  7. ^ Al-Khalili, Jim; McFadden, Johnjoe (2015) [2014]. Life on the Edge: The Coming Age of Quantum Biology. London: Bantam Press. ISBN 978-0593069318.
  8. ^ McFadden, Johnjoe. "Articles".

External linksEdit

  • [1] - Johnjoe McFadden's Homepage
  • Johnjoe McFadden's Machines Like Us interview
  • [2] - Johnjoe McFadden's homepage at the University of Surrey, UK.
  • Quantum Evolution - Explore the role of quantum mechanics in life, evolution and consciousness.
  • [3] - Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology. Johnjoe McFadden and Jim Al-Khalili (2014)