Woods was raised in northern Idaho. He obtained his bachelor's degree from the University of Idaho. Woods received a doctorate of veterinary medicine from Colorado State University. He later obtained a second doctorate in reproductive biology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Woods founded the Northwest Equine Reproduction Laboratory in Idaho in 1986. He moved to Washington state, where he taught at the University of Washington until he joined the faculty of the University of Idaho in 1988 as an Animal and Veterinary Science Department professor.
Woods, along with colleagues Dr. Dirk Vanderwall and Dr. Ken White of Utah State University, led a team of scientists in 2003 that cloned Idaho Gem, the world's first cloned mule. The cloning of Idaho Gem was a part of a larger scientific study intended to understand human diseases. Horses, mules, and other equines have lower rates of cancer than humans. Woods, Vanderwall, White and their team hoped that the cloning of mules and other equines would provide an important scientific insight into the different cancer rates between humans and equines. Woods was particularly interested in the role that calcium played in the development of cancer. Horses and mules have less calcium in their cell walls than humans.
Woods' colleague, Dirk Vanderwall, later explained Woods' goals during the Idaho Gem cloning, "That certainly was another primary focus of Gordon's...to use the horse as a model to try to understand age-onset diseases in people. Gordon's hypothesis was that excessive intracellular calcium in human cells could be an underlying factor in age-onset diseases."
Gordon Woods died unexpectedly at the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado, at the age of 57. He was survived by his wife, Shauna, whom he had been married to for 37 years, four children, six grandchildren and his mother.
- "Gordon Woods dies at 57; Veterinary scientist helped create first cloned mule". Associated Press (Los Angeles Times). 2009-08-25. Retrieved 2009-08-29.