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Experimental Heart: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Jennifer L. Rohn
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $4.99
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Book Description

Experimental Heart is an engaging romantic thriller set against the backdrop of contemporary scientific research. It is written by Dr. Jennifer Rohn, a cell biologist at University College London and founder and editor of LabLit.com, an online magazine devoted to lab culture and fiction.


Andy O'Hara, a post-doctoral researcher in a London cancer research institute, agrees to help an attractive colleague, Gina, who is collaborating with a pharmaceutical company. She is working on a virus-based vaccine but has discovered the company is planning a clinical trial of the vaccine in Africa without preliminary animal tests. Andy gets a tip-off that Gina's corporate collaborator has a shady past, but also discovers a scientific reason why the vaccine may be doomed to failure. As this excerpt begins, Andy and his friend Christine have helped Gina set up an illicit mouse experiment in their own animal facility, a move that could end all their careers if discovered.


Editorial Reviews

Review

“Scientific publishers usually work diligently to avoid any allegation of publishing fiction. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, renowned for its prestigious scientific journals and books, smashes that mold with publication of its first novel...It’s a thriller whose subject is romantic self-discovery, and its milieu is the complex world of basic and applied life science research. It’s a good read, as Rohn makes her characters in the laboratory and the biotech communities come alive. I hope it’s a harbinger of more ‘lablit’ to come...Rohn’s skill in melding the scientific and literary worlds will give you a fresh perspective on life and work.” --Cell

“Scientific publishers usually work diligently to avoid any allegation of publishing fiction. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, renowned for its prestigious scientific journals and books, smashes that mold with publication of its first novel...It’s a thriller whose subject is romantic self-discovery, and its milieu is the complex world of basic and applied life science research. It’s a good read, as Rohn makes her characters in the laboratory and the biotech communities come alive. I hope it’s a harbinger of more ablity to come...Rohn’s skill in melding the scientific and literary worlds will give you a fresh perspective on life and work.” --Cell<br /><br />“Scientific publishers usually work diligently to avoid any allegation of publishing fiction. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, renowned for its prestigious scientific journals and books, smashes that mold with publication of its first novel...It'Â’s a thriller whose subject is romantic self-discovery, and its milieu is the complex world of basic and applied life science research. It'Â’s a good read, as Rohn makes her characters in the laboratory and the biotech communities come alive. I hope it’s a harbinger of more ablity to come...Rohn’s skill in melding the scientific and literary worlds will give you a fresh perspective on life and work."
—Cell

"At the heart of the story, which Rohn tells well...is a mystery that turns on a question of science...Along the way we witness the shifting, nomadic international fellowship of scientists, and especially of postdocs. Rohn aims to change the way in which the reading public thinks about scientists." --Nature

About the Author

Dr. Jennifer Rohn is a cell biologist at University College London and founder and editor of LabLit.com, an online magazine devoted to lab culture and fiction. She has appeared on TV, radio, podcasts, live panels, and in print as a science/lit/art/culture pundit, and writes for various publications including Nature and The Scientist. She blogs about the scientific lifestyle at Mind the Gap on Nature Network. Experimental Heart is her first novel.

Product Details

  • File Size: 573 KB
  • Print Length: 371 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0879698764
  • Publisher: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press (January 1, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001WAKRPA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #941,375 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read! December 26, 2008
Format:Paperback
I am not a professional book critic, and don't know the first thing about book reviews. But I can say with certainty that I absolutely LOVED Experimental Heart, which I finished in two straight days of almost continuous reading, and would recommend wholeheartedly to others.

People have argued whether this book, or this sub-genre of books, is "science-fiction" or just plain fiction. Not too keen on that distinction, I am content if a book reads well. Experimental Heart does not disappoint on that count. It is a work of fiction involving people who work in Science disciplines - people who are not hallowed supernatural beings, but everyday human beings who are capable of looking at, analyzing and solving problems in a different way by virtue of their training, and at the same time, who are equally capable of making mistakes, thus emphasizing their essential humanity.

Dr. Rohn's description of the environment of the storyline - the research laboratory environment - was impeccable. As a bio-science researcher, I could imagine effortlessly sliding into each of the characters she created with care - the under-grad, the finishing grad student, the post-doc trying to hold together the vestiges of his or her sanity. These are I and my people. The situations she dealt upon are mine and ours, down to the ethical dilemmas of animal experimentation, the paucity of social life, the long hours spent at the bench working as well as trying to untangle results from piles of data, uncertainties over the translational nature of one's research, the inherent angst of post-doctoral life - so quintessentially familiar! And that alone made the book so enjoyable, not to mention the interesting plot and the psychology of the characters! Dr. Rohn has captured the essence so well.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That lit window late at night? That was me, reading. February 11, 2009
Format:Paperback
Much has been said about the extremely realistic depiction of scientific research in Experimental Heart, but frankly I expected nothing less from Jennifer "Lab Lit" Rohn. Of course it's a thrill for a scientist reader to recognize lab politics and *feel* Andy's frustration at running out of Taq polymerase late at night, but that is just a bonus and is not what made this a great read.

It wasn't the correct use of experimental controls that kept me up reading at 4 A.M. and made me struggle to put the book down during a social gathering. It was the well-paced plot and the depth of the characters that pulled me in, while cliffhangers and foreshadowing seduced me to rapidly turning "just a few more" pages at odd hours.

For a few days I cared more about Andy's experiments than about my own, so I suppose waiting until after my thesis defence to pick up the book had been a wise decision...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable read January 18, 2009
Format:Paperback
I found "Experimental Heart" to be an enjoyable read that was difficult to put down. I worked for years in a research lab myself and usually find novels or movies set in that background to have little resemblance to reality. That was not the case here as the author's extensive scientific background allowed her to portray a genuine research experience. I also appreciated the unobtrusive integration into the story of controversial topics such as animal research, treatment of human research subjects in developing countries, and discrimination against women in science. However, this novel is more about the romance than the science. I sometimes got frustrated with the main character's inability to make a move on the girl, but I found him likable and was rooting for him. The rest of the cast was well thought out and characterized. I'm recommending this novel to my friends.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm a professional cynic but my heart's not in it February 3, 2009
Format:Paperback
The worst fear of Selby--the only talking dog in Australia (and perhaps the world)--is that if his secret gets out he'll be sent to a laboratory where he'll "have to talk to boring scientists all day"(1). This portrayal of scientists--in a children's book--is by no means unique in popular culture. In fact, 'boring' might be an improvement: the white-coated, bespectacled scientist with poor hygiene and bad fashion sense is usually dangerously mad, or at best well-meaning but ineffectual. The attractive daughter is optional.

Yet other professions do not suffer from similar opprobrium. Lawyers, police, teachers, nurses all have sympathetic portrayals in popular entertainment. Even the sociopathic House, M.D. is a hero. The discrepancy is puzzling: after all, every mother believes her offspring is going to cure cancer--if they show any scientific proficiency at all. But in films scientists are usually either holding the world to ransom, creating unimaginable terrors or just generally stuffing things up. Similarly, the portrayal of science itself is lacking: although we think we have a pretty clear idea of police procedure or what happens in an emergency room, how, when it comes down to it, is science done?

Jennifer Rohn (a researcher at University College London, with a PhD in virology) started the online magazine LabLit.com to examine the portrayal of science and scientists in fiction, the media and popular culture: not so much to increase sympathy for the scientific profession but to raise general awareness.

Her first novel, Experimental Heart (CSHL Press), is firmly in this genre, the story narrated by a scientist whose life and concerns will be recognizable to many scientists and their families, and revealing to everyone else.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Painfully slow
As a molecular biologist and avid reader, I thought this book was quite a find. It turns out that I was wrong. Read more
Published 19 months ago by S. Worden
5.0 out of 5 stars a scientific page-turner
If you are curious about what cell biologists are, read this book. If you are a scientist yourself, in particular a post-doc, you will love it. Read more
Published on July 7, 2011 by Silvia Paracchini
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a wonderful book about science and scientists
As a scientist I can certainly vouch for the authenticity of "Experimental Heart"; it really captures the essence of laboratory life, particularly from the standpoint of a... Read more
Published on November 15, 2010 by Steven H. Caplan
5.0 out of 5 stars science drives the plot
Jennifer Rohn is famous for promoting the idea that we need more fiction with realistic scientists in leading roles, via her website lablit.com, and other outlets including Nature. Read more
Published on July 1, 2010 by Michael Gross
4.0 out of 5 stars A science thriller with real science
Start with the fact that this novel is published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, a resepected publisher of research journals and advanced science texts. Read more
Published on October 26, 2009 by wiredweird
5.0 out of 5 stars Science-in-fiction- Experimental Heart
Experimental Heart by Jennifer Rohn is a first-rate example of a rather new genre of novels- What the scientist-author Carl Djerassi calls "Science in fiction" (as opposed to... Read more
Published on March 29, 2009 by Peter Mazur
4.0 out of 5 stars Science Thriller by a scientist, plausible, well-written for...
This is a thriller love story with a twist - it's set in the real world of genetic research as described by an insider. Read more
Published on January 2, 2009 by James Aach
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read (even for a non biomedical scientist!)
As someone who is not a biomedical scientist I approached this book with a few reservations. However, twenty pages in and I was already gripped. Read more
Published on December 9, 2008 by Chopper
5.0 out of 5 stars Both a gripping novel and an excellent description of biomedical...
I would probably have been captivated by the very human aspects of this excellent first novel- the young man searching, with the help of his friends, for maturity and true love;... Read more
Published on December 1, 2008 by Carter Bancroft
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More About the Author

Jennifer L. Rohn (1967-) was born in Stow, Ohio, received a BA in Biology summa cum laude from Oberlin College in 1990 and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Washington, Seattle in 1996. She moved to London for post-doctoral scientific training and then to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, for a stint in a start-up biotech. She is currently runs a cell biology lab at University College London. An avid reader, Rohn had always wondered why there were so few scientist characters in mainstream literature. Coining the term 'lab lit' to describe novels with scientists as central characters, Rohn launched the website LabLit.com (http://www.lablit.com) in 2005 to help promote the use of science and scientist characters in mainstream fiction and to illuminate the world of scientists and laboratory culture. While living in Amsterdam, she wrote two novels about scientists - Experimental Heart, which was inspired by her exploits as a young cancer researcher in London and was published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, New York in 2008, and The Honest Look, set in a start-up biotech company in the Netherlands and published by CSHLP in 2010. In addition to her activities as a practicing scientist and novelist, Rohn is also a part-time science writer and journalist, broadcaster and sci-lit-art pundit. Her writing has appeared in places including Nature, The Guardian, and The Times, and she has also been featured on TV, radio, podcasts and as an expert in science films. She blogs about the scientific life at Mind The Gap (http://occamstypewriter.org/mindthegap/) and tweets as @jennyrohn - learn more on her website (http://jennyrohn.com).

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