An expertly detailed, precisely documented exploration of the “power of information and individualization” in health care.

THE PATIENT WILL SEE YOU NOW

THE FUTURE OF MEDICINE IS IN YOUR HANDS

A visionary physician predicts a technology-driven, patient-centered revolution in health care.

In this work about the changes afoot in the world of medical care, Topol, in this natural follow-up to his previous book (The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care, 2012, etc.), demonstrates the combination of intelligence and ambition that is apparent in his successful medical career: He’s a top cardiologist, professor of genomics, director of Scripps Translational Science Institute and founder of the world’s first cardiovascular gene bank at the Cleveland Clinic. Not content to simply critique the current system (though he does so thoroughly and convincingly), the author strides optimistically into the future of health care. In the very near future, he predicts, medicine will be patient-centered to a degree unimaginable to the countless readers who have lost countless hours in the waiting room. All of this will come courtesy of new technology that Topol likens to the introduction of the printing press, which revolutionized the dissemination of information. Medicine’s “Gutenberg moment,” writes the author, will similarly democratize medicine, enabling things like quick and accurate “smartphone physicals” and comprehensive individual genomic profiles with minimal input from the top-heavy, cost-intensive hospital system we now rely on. It’s all good news for patients, although some of Topol’s more complex statistical analyses and heavy use of medical terminology, particularly in genomics, might put off some lay readers. Others will relish the robust research the author presents throughout. Most will come away impressed with the body of knowledge Topol has collected here and, if they’re not convinced that our health care fortunes are poised to change, they’re at least hopeful that we are moving in the right direction.

An expertly detailed, precisely documented exploration of the “power of information and individualization” in health care.

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0465054749

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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A quirky wonder of a book.

WHY FISH DON'T EXIST

A STORY OF LOSS, LOVE, AND THE HIDDEN ORDER OF LIFE

A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Jahren transcends both memoir and science writing in this literary fusion of both genres.

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LAB GIRL

Award-winning scientist Jahren (Geology and Geophysics/Univ. of Hawaii) delivers a personal memoir and a paean to the natural world.

The author’s father was a physics and earth science teacher who encouraged her play in the laboratory, and her mother was a student of English literature who nurtured her love of reading. Both of these early influences engrossingly combine in this adroit story of a dedication to science. Jahren’s journey from struggling student to struggling scientist has the narrative tension of a novel and characters she imbues with real depth. The heroes in this tale are the plants that the author studies, and throughout, she employs her facility with words to engage her readers. We learn much along the way—e.g., how the willow tree clones itself, the courage of a seed’s first root, the symbiotic relationship between trees and fungi, and the airborne signals used by trees in their ongoing war against insects. Trees are of key interest to Jahren, and at times she waxes poetic: “Each beginning is the end of a waiting. We are each given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable. Every replete tree was first a seed that waited.” The author draws many parallels between her subjects and herself. This is her story, after all, and we are engaged beyond expectation as she relates her struggle in building and running laboratory after laboratory at the universities that have employed her. Present throughout is her lab partner, a disaffected genius named Bill, whom she recruited when she was a graduate student at Berkeley and with whom she’s worked ever since. The author’s tenacity, hope, and gratitude are all evident as she and Bill chase the sweetness of discovery in the face of the harsh economic realities of the research scientist.

Jahren transcends both memoir and science writing in this literary fusion of both genres.

Pub Date: April 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-87493-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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