Davis (Endorphins, 1984) puts the human genome project in its proper perspective in this well-researched, well-written...


MAPPING THE CODE: The Human Genome Project and the Choices of Modern Science

Davis (Endorphins, 1984) puts the human genome project in its proper perspective in this well-researched, well-written account. He does so by looking at the evolution of the concept, as well as seeing it in the context of politics, of the need for the US to maintain leadership or at least parity in the global biomedical research community, and of the fierce competition for funds among research investigators. Davis's early chapters are a capsule summary of the history of genetics, from Mendel through Watson/Crick to the present effort to map and sequence all 100,000 genes that lie on human chromosomes. Next he discusses changes in the environment of science--the move to Big Science, the growing proprietary nature of genetic research, and competition within the government between the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. The appointment of James D. Watson to head a new Center for Human Genome Research at NIH has resolved some of these concerns, but Watson himself got into hot water with his one-nation/one-chromosome idea for dividing the work, and has also been taken to task for the slow pace of progress. Now it appears that more realistic sights are being set and that scientists are coming to grips with new problems--such as disagreements over which chromosome contains the gene for which Big Disease (like schizophrenia). Nevertheless, the project has gained momentum and, in spite of the admonitions of the Jeremy Rifkins (very neatly described), holds great promise. A complex subject, adroitly handled--and nicely complementary to Jerry E. Bishop and Michael Waldholz's more scientifically detailed Genome (p. 771) and Lois Wingerson's more human-interest-oriented Mapping our Genes (p. 722).

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1990


Page Count: -

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1990