Professor Gayon studied at the Université de Paris (1, 6, 7), completing advanced degrees in both philosophy and biology. After a Fulbright at Harvard, he taught in the Philosophy Department of the Université de Bourgogne, where he was promoted to the rank of Full Professor in 1990. He returned to Paris in 1997 and from 2001 has achieved the highest rank, "Professeur Classe exceptionnelle 2", at the Université de Paris 1. His primary appointment is with the Institut d'Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences et des Techniques (IHPST), where he also serves as the director.
He has received the Grammaticakis-Neuman Prize from the Académie des sciences de Paris, and is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences and of the Conseil scientifique de l'Un (Paris 1). He also has served on the Conseil scientifique du Muséum national d'histoire naturelle, and from 2000 to 2005, he served as a member of the adjudication committee for the Canada Research Chairs.
Professor Gayon lists approximately 250 publications, including 19 books. He is a leading scholar in the history and philosophy of biology, with major works on Darwin, Buffon, and Bergson.