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

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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

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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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

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