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Fellows Directory

Enrico Coen

Enrico Coen

Professor Enrico Coen CBE FRS


Elected: 1998


Enrico Coen is a biologist who studies the mechanisms used by plants to create complex and varied flower structures. Enrico combines molecular, genetic and imaging studies with population and ecological models and computational analysis to understand flower development.

By studying model systems from the genus Antirrhinum, commonly known as the snapdragon, Enrico has created computer simulations of how plant cells and their genes interact to direct flower formation and control colour. Enrico’s research aims to define the developmental rules that govern flower and leaf growth at both the cellular level and throughout the whole plant, linking these different scales of analysis into an integrated understanding of evolution.

Enrico has written several books, including the recent Cells to Civilizations: The Principles of Change That Shape Life (2012), in which he postulates the seven ‘ingredients’ that shape life: population variation, persistence, reinforcement, competition, cooperation, combinatorial richness and recurrence. He was awarded a CBE in 2003 for services to plant genetics.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Computer sciences
    • Computer science (excl engineering aspects)
  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Biochemistry and molecular biology
  • Microbiology, immunology and developmental biology
    • Developmental biology
  • Other
    • Public understanding of science


  • Croonian Medal and Lecture

    For his work resulting in a new theoretical and experimental foundation for understanding how the shapes of biological structures arise through development and evolution

  • Darwin Medal

    For their ground-breaking discoveries about the control of flower development. They have combined molecular and genetic approaches to answer some of Darwins key questions about the natural variation of floral form and the evolution of floral development.

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