Professor Nathaniel Comfort

Nathaniel Comfort is the Baruch Blumberg Professor of Astrobiology at the Library of Congress/NASA and Professor of the History of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University. From 1997 to 2002, he was on the history faculty at The George Washington University, where he also served as Deputy Director of the Center for History of Recent Science. The Center’s director and founder was Horace Freeland Judson (The Eighth Day of Creation), whom, along with Johns McPhee and Cleese, Comfort considers among his biggest writing influences. He has written for The Nation, Aeon, The Point, the New York Times Book Review, National Public Radio, Natural History, Nature, Science, New Scientist, The Believer, and other publications.

The Nature article

Comfort is best known for his 2001 biography of Barbara McClintockThe Tangled Field: Barbara McClintock’s Search for the Patterns of Genetic Control. He has been praised for his reinterpretation of the response to McClintock’s work on controlling elements. His 2012 book The Science of Human Perfection examines the history of human and medical genetics in America. He has written about the development of gene editing and its relationship to the United States’ eugenics movement. He is working on a history of the genomic revolution in origin-of-life research.


B.A. in marine biology from the University of California, Berkeley

M.S. in neurobiology and behavior from Cornell University 

Ph.D. in history at Stony Brook University in 1997.