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The Compatibility Gene: How Our Bodies Fight Disease, Attract Others, and Define Our Selves 1st Edition

21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199316410
ISBN-10: 0199316414
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"An elegantly written, unexpectedly gripping account of how scientists painstakingly unraveled the way in which a small group of genes ... crucially influence, and unexpectedly interconnect, various aspects of our lives ... Lab work has rarely been made to seem more heroic." -Bill Bryson, Guardian Books of the Year 2013


"Dr Davis's readable and informative book takes the reader into unexpectedly interesting corners of both the immune system and the lives of immunologists. It is packed with an insider's knowledge -- not just of the field, but of where its bodies are buried."
-New York Times


"... a fascinating, expertly told story" -New Statesman


"Davis provides a well-written and easy-to-read account of the sometimes complicated biology behind the crucial genes that affect our lives so profoundly." -New Scientist


"Davis weaves a warm biographical thread through his tale of scientific discovery, revealing the drive and passion of those in the vanguard of research ... unusual results, astonishing implications and ethical dilemmas." -Times of London


"Davis makes the twists and turns all count." -Guardian


"Wonderful pen-portraits of the many scientists involved in this fast-moving field ... 5 out of 5 stars." -BBC Science Magazine FOCUS


"Davis gets a gold star ... for putting over an arcase subject with such infectious enthusiasm." --Nature


"...this nonfiction work is a book of the methods, practice, and serendipity of science in which the reader is given a comprehensive yet entertaining glimpse into the lives of scientists whose research still affects us today. ... The stories and insights recounted in the book are an enlightening account of the rewards received as well as the sacrifices needed to be a successful researcher in the sciences..." --PsychCritiques


About the Author


Daniel M. Davis, PhD, is a distinguished immunologist whose work has established new concepts on how immune cells communicate with each other, how immune cells recognize disease, and how viruses spread between cells. He is currently Professor of Immunology at the University of Manchester, UK, where he is the Director of Research at the Manchester Collaborative Center for Inflammation Research. Davis pioneered the use of microscopy to help visualize key molecular components of immune responses. His work helped establish a new concept of how immune cells communicate with each other and how they recognize disease. He has published over 100 academic papers, including papers in Nature and Science, collectively cited over 6,000 times. He was the recipient of a Lister Prize in 2005, a Wolfson Royal Society Merit Award in 2008, and became a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2011.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199316414
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199316410
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #978,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

In 2013, Daniel M Davis became The Director of Research in a Centre for Inflammation Research funded by the University of Manchester, AstraZeneca and GSK. Prior to this, he was the Head of the Immunology and Infection Section at Imperial College London. He previously studied immunology with Professor Jack Strominger at Harvard University, USA, although his PhD and BSc are in Physics. Professor Davis pioneered the use of microscopy to watch an immune response. His research has revealed new cell structures called immune synapses and membrane nanotubes. Professor Davis has published over 100 papers, collectively cited more than 6000 times. He was the recipient of a Lister Prize Fellowship in 2005, a Wolfson Royal Society Merit Award in 2008, and in 2011, he was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Nigel Kirk on October 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The Compatibility Gene is a very wide traverse cross the science of immunology. Early work tackling transplant rejection, the function of antigens, genetic diversity, disease healing - Davis bravely touches on many aspects of immunology but does not hesitate to provide useful explanations as necessary. He is a capable and easy expositor, targeting this book well at a lay audience. Many concepts are technical, with explanations that may take a couple of reads. The acronym laden text takes a little following - not all are as memorable as NK (Natural Killer). But it's not a long book and well worth the perseverance.

Davis broadens the scope of the book even further to expound theories on how compatibility genes may affect choice of partners, the connections between the nervous system and immune system, and how pregnancy is possible. A lot of explanation is at a molecular level but the great strength of Davis's book is his tracking of the lives of the scientists, their motivations, controversies, competition and achievements. His narrative on the life of Peter Medawar alone is worth the price of the book. In considering this review, I don't know how he fitted so much into 186 pages. The Notes section is very extensive and helpful and the Index useful.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By isaac chiu on November 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Daniel Davis gives a masterful account about the discovery of compatibility genes and their fundamental role to human biology: in the generation of specific immune responses to combat viruses and bacteria, mediation of auto-immune diseases, and successful organ transplantation. Davis further unveils fascinating and cutting edge work today showing that the importance of these genes reaches farther than the immune system: in the wiring of the brain, generation of successful pregnancies, and even mate selection. Thus, Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) genes, the most variable of all human genes, may be key to what makes us humans so successful in biological processes requiring compatibility both internally in the human body and at the interface with the outside world. Davis is an appropriate ambassador for the field, currently conducting important immunological research in his own laboratory. In "The Compatibility Gene", he begins with Peter Medawar's pioneering work on transplantation research and Frank Burnet's theory of self-tolerance, leading to the discovery of MHC and eventual absolutely revealing crystal structure of MHC proteins bound to their peptides. It is very exciting to read in such a clear style the interesting history of immunological research, accounts of personal experiences, struggles and eventual scientific breakthrough and discovery. As one with primary training in immunology, it is very refreshing to see such a well-written account of significant immune discoveries and the people who conducted them. This book is a pure joy to read and brings cutting edge science to the everyday reader.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By PATRICIA LAWSON on April 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Disguised as an informal history of immunology, Daniel Davis’ multi-tasking book brings us up to speed on immune system research. This includes a new understanding of immune function in the brain as well as in pregnancy. Formerly, the immune system was thought to remain outside the blood-brain barrier, to avoid damaging neurons. Now it’s increasingly clear that the immune system not only plays a role in learning and mental illness, its cells function very much like neurons.
Like neurons, they form synapses. These are juncture points where proteins are emitted and received by other cells. Molecular immunologist Davis’ own contribution to the research has been to show that these synapses occur in more than one kind of immune cell, and that the synapse is where the immune cell gets switched on and off either to destroy a cell or withdraw. Not only do immune cells act like neurons, Davis points out that “…stroke and many other neurological problems can be triggered or exacerbated by immune responses.” Narcolepsy may even be an auto-immune disease.
The newer research also shows that immune function determines the success of pregnancy, by affecting how well the placenta embeds in the uterine wall. Too much immune response from the mother and the placenta will be rejected or weakened.
In a rare presentation for a lay audience, Davis lays out the fundamental way the system works. Certain “compatibility” genes, which let our body recognize the difference between self and other, exist in nearly all our cells. Their role is to make proteins that hold up to the cell’s surface components of various proteins inside the cell. This way, an immune system cell an tell whether it has encountered a healthy “self” cell or one possessed by a virus.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth L. on November 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
At its highest heights, THE COMPATIBILITY GENE captures the energy of scientific discovery. My only criticism is that I did find Davis's detailed discussion of MHC genes a bit challenging at times, but then again I'm no armchair immunologist. I suppose if this section were a cakewalk, then Davis wouldn't be doing justice to his subject. Looking around on Amazon, this appears to be the only book that takes on "compatibility genes" in such an ambitious way - which is why I give it 5 stars!
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