Stuart Alan Kauffman is an American medical doctor, theoretical biologist, and complex systems researcher who studies the origin of life on Earth. He created early models of large genetic regulatory networks, proposing that cell types are dynamical attractors of such networks and that cell differentiation steps are transitions between attractors. In 1971 he suggested that the zygote may not access all the cell type attractors in the repertoire of the genetic network’s dynamics, hence some of the unused cell types might be cancers, which suggested the possibility of “cancer differentiation therapy”.
He also proposed the self-organized emergence of collectively autocatalytic sets of polymers, specifically peptides for the origin of molecular reproduction, and is best known for arguing that the complexity of biological systems and organisms might result as much from self-organization and far-from-equilibrium dynamics as from Darwinian natural selection.
For more information, visit his website.