John C. Sanford

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John C. Sanford (born 1950) is an American plant geneticist, and an advocate of intelligent design and young earth creationism.

John C Sanford, Fall 2014


Academic career[edit]

Sanford graduated in 1976 from the University of Minnesota with a BSc in horticulture. He went to the University of Wisconsin–Madison where he received an MSc in 1978 and a PhD in 1980 in plant breeding/plant genetics. Between 1980 and 1986 Sanford was an assistant professor of Horticultural Sciences at Cornell University,[citation needed] and from 1986 to 1998 he was an associate professor of Horticultural Science.[citation needed] Although retiring in 1998, Sanford continues at Cornell as a courtesy associate professor. He held an honorary Adjunct Associate Professor of Botany at Duke University. Sanford has published over 70 scientific publications.[1]


Sanford is an inventor with more than 32 issued patents.[citation needed] At Cornell Sanford and colleagues developed the "Biolistic Particle Delivery System" or so-called "gene gun".[2][3][4] He is the co-inventor of the Pathogen-derived Resistance (PDR) process and the co-inventor of the genetic vaccination process. He was given the "Distinguished Inventor Award" by the Central New York Patent Law Association in 1990 and 1995.[citation needed] He has founded two biotechnology companies, Sanford Scientific and Biolistics.[citation needed] In 1998 he retired on the proceeds from the sale of his biotech companies, and continued at Cornell as a courtesy associate professor.

Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome[edit]

Sanford has argued for devolution in his book Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome (2005, 2008).[5][6] He summarized all evolutionary major population models in the Appendix.

Mendel's Accountant[edit]

Sanford and colleagues developed the quantitative forward genetic modeling program Mendel's Accountant, publishing several papers on it and genetic entropy in non peer review.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14] Based on this research, Sanford holds that the human genome is deteriorating, and therefore could not have evolved through a process of mutation and selection as specified by the modern evolutionary synthesis.

Intelligent design and creationism[edit]

Formerly an atheist[15] from the mid-1980s, Sanford has looked into theistic evolution (1985–late 1990s), Old Earth creationism (late 1990s), and Young Earth creationism (2000–present). According to his own words, he did not fully reject Darwinian evolution until the year 2000.[citation needed] An advocate of intelligent design, Sanford testified in 2005 in the Kansas evolution hearings on behalf of intelligent design, during which he denied the principle of common descent and "humbly offered... that we were created by a special creation, by God".

He stated that he believed the age of the Earth was "less than 100,000" years.[16] Sanford uses an analogy to illustrate evidence of design - that of a car versus a junkyard: "A car is complex, but so is a junkyard. However, a car is complex in a way that is very specific — which is why it works. It requires a host of very intelligent engineers to specify its complexity, so it is a functional whole."[17] Intelligent-design advocate William Dembski cites the accomplishments of Sanford as evidence of the scientific status of intelligent design, since Sanford is a specialist in genetic engineering and a Courtesy Associate Professor in Horticulture.


  1. ^ John C. Sanford, NY State Agricultural Experiment Station
  2. ^ Cornell Chronicle, May 14, 1987, page 3.Biologists invent gun for shooting cells with DNA
  3. ^ Sanford JC et al (1987) Delivery of substances into cells and tissues using a particle bombardment process. Journal of Particulate Science and Technology 5:27-37.
  4. ^ Klein, TM et al (1987) High-velocity microprojectiles for delivering nucleic acids into living cells. Nature 327:70-73.
  5. ^ Sanford, John C. (2005-10-25). Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome. Ivan Press. ISBN 978-1-59919-002-0. 
  6. ^ Sanford, John C. (2008). Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome 3rd Ed. FMS Publications. p. 248. ISBN 978-0-9816316-0-8. 
  7. ^ Sanford, J.C., Baumgardner, J., Brewer, W., Gibson, P., ReMine, W. (2007). Mendel's Accountant: a biologically realistic forward-time population genetics program. SCPE 8(2): 147-165.
  8. ^ Sanford, J.C., Baumgardner, J., Brewer, W., Gibson, P., ReMine, W. (2007). Using computer simulation to understand mutation accumulation dynamics and genetic load. In Shi et al. (Eds.), ICCS 2007, Part II, LNCS 4488 (pp.386-392), Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg.
  9. ^ Sanford, John (2012). "A new look at an old virus: patterns of mutation accumulation in the human H1N1 influenza virus since 1918". Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling. doi:10.1186/1742-4682-9-42. 
  10. ^ Sanford, John (Jul 2013). "Can Purifying Natural Selection Preserve Biological Information?". World Scientific. Biological Information: New Perspectives. doi:10.1142/9789814508728_0011. 
  11. ^ Sanford, John (Jul 2013). "Using Numerical Simulation to Test the "Mutation-Count" Hypothesis". World Scientific. Biological Information: New Perspectives. doi:10.1142/9789814508728_0012. 
  12. ^ Sanford, John (Jul 2013). "Can Synergistic Epistasis Halt Mutation Accumulation? Results from Numerical Simulation". World Scientific. Biological Information: New Perspectives. doi:10.1142/9789814508728_0013. 
  13. ^ Sanford, John (Jul 2013). "Computational Evolution Experiments Reveal a Net Loss of Genetic Information Despite Selection". World Scientific. Biological Information: New Perspectives. doi:10.1142/9789814508728_0014. 
  14. ^ Sanford, John (Jul 2013). "Information Loss: Potential for Accelerating Natural Genetic Attenuation of RNA Viruses". World Scientific. Biological Information: New Perspectives. doi:10.1142/9789814508728_0015. 
  15. ^ Transcripts of the Kansas Evolution Hearings
  16. ^ Transcripts of the Kansas Evolution Hearings
  17. ^ Intelligent Design: Professors discuss Teaching the Controversial Subject Xiaowei Cathy Tang. Cornell Daily Sun, November 15, 2005

External links[edit]