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3D Mock-up Change Laura Tan and Rob Stad
Spontaneous generation of living organisms—life arising without progenitor or seed—was a common belief in the time of Aristotle. Over the next two thousand years, support for spontaneous generation slowly retreated to its final stronghold: spontaneous formation of the first living organism.
From recently acquired insights into the complexity of the simplest organisms, Tan and Stadler specify requirements for spontaneous formation of life and evaluate the prospects for natural processes to satisfy these requirements. The Stairway to Life is a thought-provoking inquiry that breaches the final stronghold of spontaneous generation.

“The best book I have read on the hard problems of abiogenesis. The science is accurate and impeccable”

Sy Garte, PhD.

Retired professor of biochemistry

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"The Stairway to Life is researched with a rigor that tantalizes the trained biochemist, yet it remains approachable to the untrained…For my colleagues willing to cross-examine the idea that reality consists of only matter and energy, Tan and Stadler produce a compelling argument that ‘the miracle of life’ is more than just a euphemism."

Charisse M. Nartey, PhD (biochemistry). 

Research Scientist, University of Texas at Dallas

"At the dawn of the age of genetic engineering, we have all the scientific tools to find out what the molecular and informational requirements are for life. Tan and Stadler have explored this in a fascinating tale of mankind’s attempt to understand the origins of life by trying to recreate it. The Stairway to Life is scientifically faithful and compelling.”

Berkley E. Gryder, PhD. Scientist,
National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

“Tan and Stadler have carefully examined the required steps to progress from nonliving matter to a first living organism…The naturalistic story portrayed in textbooks and popular media fails to account for the chemical and biochemical challenges inherent in the development of the first life-forms.”

Joe Deweese, PhD. Associate Professor of
Pharmaceutical Sciences, Lipscomb University

"While synthetic biologists claim to have created 'new life,' they cannot create cells from simple chemical matter, but can only modify existing biological molecules and living cells. The Stairway to Life convincingly confirms that there is no scientific naturalistic explanation for existing life."

Ken Fischer, PhD, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of Bioengineering, University of Kansas

The Stairway to Life



Change Laura Tan received a BS in chemistry from Hunan Normal University, an MS in organic chemistry from Nan Kai University, and a PhD in biochemistry from University of Pennsylvania, and also completed postdoctoral training in genetics at Harvard Medical School. She is currently an associate

professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri. Her research interests include genetics, developmental biology, molecular biology, origin of life, and origin of biodiversity. She teaches molecular biology, signal transduction, and general biology to graduate and undergraduate students.


Rob Stadler received a B.S. in biomedical engineering from Case Western Reserve University, an M.S. in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in Medical Engineering from the Harvard/MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. 

As a scientist in the medical device industry for over twenty years, he has obtained more than 160 US patents, has been elected fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biomedical Engineers, and has contributed to medical devices that are implanted in millions of patients worldwide.

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