Research Foundation of Southern California, La Jolla
Research at the Foundation has sought, throughout a period approach-
ing four decades, to find answers to a number of fundamental questions
in the life sciences and mathematical physics.
● Formation of the genetic code has remained an open question since
the mid-1960s. Research at the Foundation recently succeeded, how-
ever, in showing code evolution can be reconstructed in a manner that
unified earlier findings on its origin. Insights resulted into how proteins
arose during the transition from the "RNA World" stage of life.
● Competitive replication experiments, in vitro, opened the way to scaling
biological evolution to its physicochemical driving forces. The population-
scale theory of Darwin and Wallace, based on the principle of Malthus,
could then be absorbed into a more general, molecular-scale theory that
provided a deeper insight into evolution.
● The generality of these physicochemical principles and antiquity of
structural evidence, from genetic code and ribozyme active sites, opened
a window on pre-'RNA World' stages of replication. Poly(pentose-phosph-
ate) replicators, related to the RNA scaffold and originating from the
formose cycle (see figures), were attributed with initiating life on Earth.
Double-helix base pairs with bi-directional H-bonds and anti-parallel
scaffold strands were attributed to an antecedent replicator reliant on
base self-recognition (A=A, G=G), prior to quaternary sequences with
semi-conservative Watson-Crick pairings (A=T=A, G=C=G).
● Photon self-interference intensity peaks and reconstructed mean path
density were shown to resolve the 'which-way' problem in quantum
mechanics with a 0.99 correlation coefficient and error probability of a 5-
to-6 sigma event, supporting the De Broglie-Bohm interpretation of wave-
particle duality. A compressed bootstrap evaluation of probability was
● A body in motion can be noted to follow a trajectory of least complexity
in flat space and curved space. This led to the finding that the
conservation laws of dynamics imply complexity invariance, in continuous
and discontinuous paths of motion, in Euclidean and Gaussian spaces.
● Unification of quantum theory with general relativity has been
investigated, in the search for a quantum-scale theory of gravity.
● A proof for Goldbach's conjecture was sought and number theory has
been applied to information encryption.
Early contributions (1962-1982):
●Effects of endocrine interactions on the hair growth cycle; quantitative
method introduced to evaluate autoradiographs (1962).
● Norethynodrel, used in ovulation-suppression pills, shown to inhibit
blastocyst implantation (1962).
● Proposed tRNA/base-triplet binding assay to identify codon
assignments In genetic code (1963).
● Early proponent of synthetic biology (1965, 2004).
● Template sequence complexity, a non-local form of order, essential to
life, but, being pre-existant to replication, noted to have no role in the
thermodynamics of the replication reaction (1965).
● Devised an immunochemical procedure to isolate specific
● Rapid-reading of template minimized chain-termination errors in
polypeptide synthesis (Davis, 1971)
● Initiated use of hydrogel implants for slow-delivery of insulin
and other substances (1972).
● Acquisition of fertilizing capacity linked to efflux of plasma
membrane cholesterol in mammalian sperm cells (1976, 1982).
● Fisher's fundamental theorem of natural selection shown to
apply to molecular evolution in the test tube (1978).
Site updated August 27, 2020
© Brian K Davis 2020. All rights reserved.
A spontaneous autocatalytic reaction splits the 4-carbon
sugar (top figure) at its C2:C3 bond (arrow), to form two
molecules of a 2-C sugar. The ancient pathways of central
metabolism conserve the imprint of a like reaction that splits
the C2:C3 bond of a sugar monomer (arrow, mid figure), in the
replication of a precursor to the RNA poly(ribose-phosphate)
scaffold. RuBP, ribulose-1,5-bis-phosphate; rf, replicative
form; PGA, 3-phospho-glycerate; [ ] marks a monomer; red, O
atom; white, H; P and C atoms not shown. A proposed RNA
replicator, preceding the double-helix and Watson-Crick
complementarity (lower figure). Self-pairing purines, with bi-
directional H-bonds, form a binary sequence, attached to an
anti-parallel (3':5':5':3') ribose-phosphate scaffold. A, adeno-
sine, G, guanosine. Arrows show donor-to-acceptor H bond
direction. Bar, 1 Å (Davis, 2015, 2018).