Fox, Sydney W. (1912–1998)

Sydney Fox

Sydney Fox was an American biochemist who figured prominently over the past few decades in laboratory studies concerning the origin of life (see life, origin of).


Fox received his doctorate from the California Institute of Technology (1940), served on the faculty of Iowa State University (1943–1955), and was director and professor of the Oceanographic Institute of Florida State University (1955–1961). At the behest of NASA, Fox held the position of director of the Institute of Bioscience at Florida State (1961–1964) before moving to the University of Miami to become director and professor of its Institute of Molecular and Cellular Evolution (1964–89). In 1989, he became distinguished research professor in the Department of Plant Biology at Southern Illinois University and from 1993 was been distinguished research scientist in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Southern Alabama.


Fox was best known for his seminal experiments in the synthesis of thermal proteins (previously known as "proteinoids") from amino acids which he carried out in the 1960s and for his demonstration that these proteins, when placed in water, spontaneously self-organize into structures, known as microspheres, that resemble primitive cells. On three occasions he was invited to the Vatican to explain the results of his work to the Pope. His most recent experiments sought to demonstrate that the cell-like structures he created in the laboratory also act as protonerve cells.



1. Fox, Sidney. The Emergence of Life: Darwinian Evolution from the Inside. New York: Basic Books (1988).