Techies may enjoy, but general readers concerned about the broader issues raised by personal genomics are advised to wait...

THE $1,000 GENOME

THE SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGH THAT WILL CHANGE OUR LIVES

A high-tech, personality-driven account of advances in the field of personal genomics since the first draft of the human genome was announced a decade ago.

Bio-IT World editor in chief Davies (Cracking the Genome, 2001) predicts that sequencing the human genome, which initially cost billions of dollars, is approaching $1,000 and will drop to $100 or less in the near future. In addition, routine, affordable genome sequencing will transform health care. He relates the stories of numerous startup companies in the field of personal genomics, the attempts of entrepreneurs to develop technologies to sequence the human genome rapidly and economically and the services that they offer to individual consumers. The author is writing for a savvy readership. For general readers, who are likely to struggle with unfamiliar acronyms and technical terms, he attempts to lighten the jargon by peppering his account with irrelevant details about the personalities involved. A number of individual chapters read like magazine profiles, and his own experiences with getting his genome sequenced and with genetic counseling are revealing of the provisional nature of the information provided. Of more general interest are concerns raised about the information that personal-genomics companies provide to individual consumers. Is the information accurate? Does it have clinical value, i.e., can it predict a disorder? Does it have clinical utility, i.e., can it be used to prevent or treat a condition? Can the privacy of the information be protected? Davies skims over the ethical issues, as well as questions about how individuals may choose to apply genetic information in their lives and how doctors will incorporate genetic information about patients into their practices. The author is convincing about the declining price of genome sequencing, but just how this will affect medical care remains an open question.

Techies may enjoy, but general readers concerned about the broader issues raised by personal genomics are advised to wait for a different discussion.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4165-6959-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...

A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING

Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

more