Cause and Effect in the Interaction between Embryogenesis and the Genome

Richard Gordon
Theoretical Biologist
Embryogenesis Center Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory
Presented in the Embryo Physics Course, March 21, 2012





I’m Richard (Dick) Gordon, an itinerant theoretical biologist, retired in 2011 as a Professor/Adjunct Professor of Pathology, Radiology, Electrical & Computer Engineering, Botany, Physics, Biosystems Engineering, Zoology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Medical Physics and Computer Science over a period of 34 years at the University of Manitoba. For autobiographical stuff see:

Gordon, R. (2011). Cosmic Embryo #1: My Erdös Number Is 2i

Gordon, R. (2011). Stop breast cancer now! Imagining imaging pathways towards search, destroy, cure and watchful waiting of premetastasis breast cancer [invited]. In:  Breast Cancer – A Lobar Disease. Ed.: T. Tot. London, Springer: 167-203.

I make my papers available via DropBox ( Please contact me at and let me know which categories you’re interested in, and send me some of your own:

  • Diatoms
  • Embryogenesis
  • Grant system
  • Medical imaging
  • Miscellaneous
  • Origin of life
  • Public health

My wife, Dr. Natalie K. Björklund-Gordon, and I plan to alternate winters at the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory ( in Panacea, Florida, where we are establishing a modest Embryogenesis Center, and summers at our wilderness quarter section we call Silver Bog in western Manitoba, Canada. We have a few books in the mill and are always open to collaborations and visits.


One response to “Cause and Effect in the Interaction between Embryogenesis and the Genome”

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  1. Alexei Sharov says:

    Sorry, I missed your lecture because I was at the meeting. Here are some comments. Thank you for the review of Turing’s works! It appears he did much more than just “Turing machine”. Your thesis “No Gradients, No Morphogens, … etc.” seems overstated. There are signals/sign in embryo development but they are not as specific as some people think, and they are context-dependent. Embryo is often protected from external signals, thus there is no need to make the “inducer” too specific.
    I don’t understand why you argue against positional information. You say that a cell merely responds to the differentiation waves, and I agree with this. Then, we can define a combination and timing of waves as “positional information” because it specifies a subspace in the embryo.
    Hypotheses #1 and #2 for cell differentiation should not be viewed as mutually exclusive. It’s probably a combination of both. Very interesting section on the inter-connection of chromosomes.