A fine tribute to a forerunner of today’s personalized medicine and wellness monitoring; Hood deserves to be a household...




A debut biography examines a biologist whose DNA sequencing work paved the way for the Human Genome Project.

Biotech journalist Timmerman met Leroy “Lee” Edward Hood as a Seattle Times reporter in 2001. Bill Gates had lured Hood to the University of Washington in 1991 with $12 million for a molecular biotechnology department, but in 1999 Hood resigned to found the Institute for Systems Biology. The book shrewdly opens with this turning point, then retreats to Hood’s birth in Montana in 1938 and proceeds chronologically. A football quarterback and Westinghouse Science Talent Search finalist, Hood looked to professors to provide the positive example his alcoholic father didn’t. Caltech hosted much of Hood’s career, from undergraduate years—when he was president of the freshman class—to two decades on staff. While at Caltech, he co-wrote a biochemistry textbook and headed a cancer research center. “Never prone to self-doubt,” Hood had broad but shallow knowledge, Timmerman notes, so relied on—and sometimes took credit for—colleagues’ expertise. However, he was dedicated to innovation, and his work on a DNA sequencing machine would prove as revolutionary to the genomics field as the printing press has been in Western culture. Such farsightedness accounts for him winning the 2002 Kyoto Prize and a 2013 National Medal of Science—limited consolation for missing out on a Nobel Prize in the 1980s. One chapter title sums Hood up perfectly: “A Visionary, Not a Manager.” Timmerman builds a painstaking picture of a determined researcher whose entrepreneurial spirit made up for what he lacked in genius and interpersonal skills. Although distant and dismissive of bureaucracy, Hood earned tenure at Caltech at age 35 and became a department chair at 41—but he was asked to step down in 1988. Alongside his professional difficulties, including some failed ventures (for example, a rice genome project with Monsanto), were complications in his personal life, particularly wife Valerie Logan’s Alzheimer’s disease. In this sympathetic and thorough biography, Timmerman’s admiration of a man who was still working 84-hour weeks well into his 70s comes through clearly. Yet the author never shies away from the contradictions of this forceful personality.

A fine tribute to a forerunner of today’s personalized medicine and wellness monitoring; Hood deserves to be a household name.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9977093-0-8

Page Count: 438

Publisher: Bandera Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?



Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?