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Donald R. Forsdyke M.B., B. S., B. A., Ph.D
 Donald R. Forsdyke
Emeritus Professor
Contact Info

Faculty Bio

Donald Forsdyke graduated from St. Mary's Hospital, London University, UK in 1961. After house appointments at St.Mary's (Medical Unit and Department of Psychiatry) and the Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge (Surgery), he began research in Molecular Biology and Cellular Immunology at the Department of Biochemistry, Cambridge (Ph.D. 1967). He was appointed to what was then the Department of Biochemistry at Queen's University in 1968. He has published some 200 papers and several books, and in the late 1990s established a series of educational webpages that are frequently updated. In the 1970s he served as Chairpersons of the Health Science Library Committee and of the Senate Library Committee. He was President of the John Austin Society for the History of Medicine and Science (2013-2016).

Research Interests

Current projects:

  • Bioinformatics: Conflicts between different levels of genetic information.
  • Bioinformatics: Origin of introns. Role of non-genic DNA
  • Bioinformatics: DNA and RNA structure: HIV, EBV
  • Immunology: Self/non-self discrimination. Intracellular protein aggregation.
  • Immunology: Positive repertoire selection. Role of thymus.
  • Immunology: Lectin pathway of complement activation.
  • Evolutionary Biology: Speciation and Haldane’s rule.
  • Evolutionary Biology: X-chromosome dosage compensation.
  • Neuroscience: Long-term memory. Intracellular protein aggregation
  • Vascular science: Hypertension. Angiotensin II inhibitors
  • Biohistory. Kingston-born George J. Romanes, William Bateson. Samuel Butler

Please see Forsdyke's web-page (Web-page with publications) for further information and links to his web-pages on Bioinformatics, Evolution, and much more.

Selected Publications

Some Recent Papers: 

Forsdyke DR (2022) Journal of Genetics 101, 26. Centenary of Haldane’s “rule”: why male sterility may be normal, not ‘idiopathic”. Forsdyke DR (2022) Scandinavian Journal of Immunology 95, e13144. Positive selection of immune repertoires: a short further history.

Forsdyke DR (2022) FASEB Journal 36, e22158. When “doping” is OK: the importance not only of basic research, but how it is funded.

Forsdyke DR (2021) Encyclopedia of Life Sciences 2, 1-11. Functional constraint and molecular evolution.

Forsdyke DR (2021) Biological Theory 16, 237-241. Complementary oligonucleotides rendered discordant by single base mutations may drive speciation.

Forsdyke DR (2021) Genetica 149, 81-88. Neutralism versus selectionism: Chargaff’s second parity rule revisited.

Zhang C & Forsdyke DR (2021) Computational Biology and Chemistry 94, 107570. Potential Achilles heels of SARS-CoV-2 are best displayed by the base-order-dependent component of RNA folding energy.

Forsdyke DR (2020) Scandinavian Journal of Immunology 92, e12929. Metabolic optimization of adoptive T-cell transfer cancer immunotherapy: a historical overview.

Forsdyke DR (2020) arXiv Preprint. SARS-CoV-2 mortality in blacks and temperature-sensitivity to an angiotensin-2 receptor blocker.

Forsdyke DR (2020) Biological Theory 15, 143-147. Classics in Biological Theory. Revisiting George Romanes’ “Physiological Selection” 1886.

Forsdyke DR (2020) Biological Theory 15, 50-55. Aging, DNA information and authorship: Medawar, Schrodinger and Samuel Butler.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2020) Theory in Biosciences 139, 95-104. When few survive to tell the tale: thymus and gonad as auditioning organs.

Forsdyke DR (2019) Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 128, 779-788. Hybrid sterility can only be primary when acting as a reproductive barrier for sympatric speciation.

Forsdyke DR (2019) Scandinavian Journal of Immunology 90, e12797. On certain two-signal views on lymphocyte activation and inactivation, thymic G-quadruplexes, and the role of aggregation in self/not-self discrimination.

Forsdyke DR (2019) Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 128, 239-250. Success of alignment-free oligonucleotide (k-mer) analysis confirms relative importance of genomes not genes in speciation.
Forsdyke DR (2019) Scandinavian Journal of Immunology 89, e12746. Two signal half-century: from negative selection of self-reactivity to positive selection of near-self reactivity.

Forsdyke DR (2018) Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 124, 139-150. The chromosomal basis of species initiation: Prdm9 as an anti-speciation gene.

Forsdyke DR (2018) Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (Wiley) Mendel, Gregor Johann.

Forsdyke DR (2017) Biological Theory 12, 157-168. Base composition, speciation, and why the mitochondrial barcode precisely classifies. 

Forsdyke DR (2017) Biological Theory 12, 4-12. Speciation: Goldschmidt's chromosomal heresy, once supported by Gould and Dawkins, is again reinstated. 

Reese, V. R. & Forsdyke, D. R. (2016) Biological Theory 11, 150-157. Meiotic pairing inadequadacies at the levels of X chromosome, gene, or base: epigenetic tagging for transgenerational error-correction guided by a future homologous duplex.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2016) Microbes & Infection 18, 450-459. Almroth Wright, opsonins, innate immunity and the lectin pathway of complement activation: a historical perspective.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2015) Biological Theory 10, 336-342. Wittgenstein's certainty is uncertain. Brain scans of cured hydrocephalics challenge cherished assumptions.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2015) Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 21,1024-1027. Physician-scientist-patients who barketh not. The quantified self movement and crowd-sourcing research.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2015) BMC Research Notes 8, article 227  Summertime dosage-dependent hypersensitivity to an angiotensin II receptor blocker.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2015) History of Psychiatry 26 (3), 270-287 "A vehicle of symbols and nothing more." George Romanes, theory of mind, information, and Samuel Butler.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2015) Immunology and Cell Biology 93, 297-304  Lymphocyte repertoire selection and intracellular self/not-self discrimination: historical overview.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2014) PeerJ PrePrints 2:e294v1 The relative roles of politics and science: William Bateson, black slavery, eugenics and speciation.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2014) Lewin's GENES XI (eds. J. E. Krebs, S. T. Kilpatrick & E. S. Goldstein). Revision of Chapter 4 ("The Interrupted Gene") and Section 6 of Chapter 8 ("How Did Interrupted Genes Evolve?"). Published by Jones & Bartlett, Sudbury, MA.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2014) Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8, 397. Long-term memory. Scaling of information to brain size.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2014) Microbes and Infection 16, 96-103. Implications of HIV RNA structure for recombination, speciation, and the neutralism-selectionism controversy.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2014) Newsletter of the History of Science Society 43 (3), 10-14. Teaching Those Who Teach Evolution: The Khan Academy Approach.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2013) Biological Theory 7, 196-203. Introns First.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2013) Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28, 73-74. Base composition, speciation and barcoding.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2012) BioEssays 34, 930-933. Ohno's hypothesis and Muller's paradox: sex chromosome dosage compensation may serve collective gene functions.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2012) Journal of the History of Biology 45, 139-161. Immunology (1955-1975): The natural selection theory, the two signal hypothesis, and positive repertoire selection.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2011) Isis 102, 579-580. Review of Darwin's Disciple. George John Romanes. A Life in Letters. by Joel S. Schwartz (Am. Phil. Soc. 2011).

Forsdyke, D. R. (2011) Biological Theory 5, 246-255. The selfish gene revisited: reconciliation of Williams-Dawkins and conventional definitions.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2011) Heredity 106, 202. The B in BDM. William Bateson did not advocate a genic speciation theory.

Forsdyke, D. R., Zhang, C. & Wei, J.-F. (2010) Journal of Biological Systems 18, 1-16 Chromosomes as interdependent accounting units. The assigned orientation of C. elegans chromosomes minimizes the total W-base Chargaff difference.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2010) Notes and Records of the Royal Society 64, 139-154. George Romanes, William Bateson, and Darwin's "Weak Point."

Forsdyke, D. R. (2009) Immunology and Cell Biology 87, 525-528. X-chromosome reactivation perturbs intracellular self/not-self discrimination.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2009) Journal of Theoretical Biology 258, 156-164. Samuel Butler and human long-term memory. Is the cupboard bare?

Forsdyke, D. R. (2009) Theory in Biosciences 128, 157-161. Scherrer and Josts' symposium. The gene concept in 2008.

Forsdyke, D. R. (2009) Mendel Newsletter 17, 19-21. The papers of William Bateson and Alan Geoffrey Cock at Queen's University.

Zhang, C., Xu, S., Wei, J.-F. & Forsdyke, D. R. (2008) Journal of Theoretical Biology 254, 168-177. Microsatellites that violate Chargaff's second parity rule have base order-dependent asymmetries in the folding energies of complementary DNA strands and may not drive speciation.

Recent Books:

1. Forsdyke, D. R. (2000) Tomorrow's Cures Today? How to Reform the Health Research System.  Harwood Academic, Amsterdam.

2. Forsdyke, D. R. (2001) The Origin of Species, Revisited. McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal

3. Forsdyke, D. R. (2006) Evolutionary Bioinformatics. First Edition. Springer, New York.

4. Cock, A. G. & Forsdyke, D. R. (2008) Treasure Your Exceptions.” The Science and Life of William Bateson. Springer, New York.

5. Forsdyke, D. R. (2011) Evolutionary Bioinformatics. Second Edition. Springer, New York.

6. Forsdyke, D. R. (2016) Evolutionary Bioinformatics. Third Edition. Springer, New York.

7. Cock, A. G. & Forsdyke, D. R. (2022) “Treasure Your Exceptions.” The Science and Life of William Bateson. Second Edition. Springer, New York