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The Gene Wars: Science, Politics, and the Human Genome Hardcover – April 17, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0393035728 ISBN-10: 0393035727

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (April 17, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393035727
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393035728
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,193,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Launched in 1990 with federal support, the Human Genome Project to map the genetic code embodied in the six feet of DNA coiled inside every human cell holds the promise of identifying the genes involved in specific diseases. Cook-Degan, a physician and consultant who directed a 1988 Congressional study on genome research and is now with the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, tracks the program's early history and politics in this absorbing study. James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA's double-helix structure, was the genome project's first director; his status as the "father of DNA" helped win funding from Congress by mollifying critics who deemed the project overcentralized Big Science of dubious practical value. As the project became a global collaborative effort, U.S. scientists clashed with Japanese researchers eager to wed its goals to corporate biotechnology interests. Yet a similar process now seems to be underway in the U.S. with the expanding role of commercial investment in genome research. Cook-Degan weighs the ethical issues surrounding the genome project, which raises the specter of discrimination in employment and insurance through genetic screening and testing.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This accessible account of the Human Genome Project is as much about the politics, economics, and personalities as it is about the science of this $3 billion, 15-year project to map the 100,000 chromosome sequences of the human genome. However, more discussion of the potential clinical implications and controversies surrounding the decision to map the entire genome, including sequences with no currently known purpose, would have been helpful. Cook-Deegan, Executive Director for the Biomedical Ethics Advisory Committee when funding was cut, is occasionally an intrusive narrator, concerned about his own career prospect. He could also have reserved mention of newly appointed director Francis Collins to the epilog. But he knows the players and has seen much of the story unfold firsthand. Recommended for its relatively rare inside glimpse into the world of big science, big politics, and big money. See also Jerry Bishop and Michael Waldholz's Genome , LJ 7/90.
-Ed. --Mary Chitty, Biotrends Research, Natick, Mass.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 13, 1997
Format: Hardcover
November, 1997 "The Gene Wars: Science, Politics, and the Human Genome" by Robert Cook-Deegan (W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1994) This is a fascinating book about the politics of the human genome project. Although I was familiar with much of the history of this project, it was good to read an organized, "insider's view". The author worked for the U.S. congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) during the formative years of the project. The book starts out with a description of the horrors of Alzheimer's disease, and then goes on to explain the significance of the human genome project in terms of understanding human disease. With the significance of the work firmly established, the genesis of the human genome project is described - apparently the idea of sequencing the entire DNA sequence for a "single" human being was first realistically proposed by three different groups, working independently of each other, all about the same time (within a few months) during 1985. These groups all realized that the technology was quickly becoming available to achieve such a daunting task. To give you an idea of the difficulty of the task - imagine that you were to start reading the human genome, at one base every second (the genetic information coding for you (and all other animals and plants you see) is written down in a simple "text", just like this article; in the language of DNA, there are only four "letters" - G, A, T, and C) - to read the DNA sequence of a human being would take about 140 years - if you were to read one base a second, 24 hours a day, non-stop. The (frustrating) fact is that you really would not know anything about the person when you were done, except that they most likely had died (and had to pay taxes!Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Tresca on October 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
I originally read this book for a college course about the ethics of genetics. It is something every person in the biological or natural sciences should read, but it is also helpful for anyone interested in genetics. It is primarily about the politics and ethics which surround all genetic issues. Cook-Deegan explains the rudiments of genetics in a very easy to understand manner, and then launches into an in-depth examination of the politics of genetics. More goes on behind the scenes of biological science than you would ever believe. In the coming years genetics and the ethical issues surrounding genetics are going to become very important in medicine, pharmaceutical research, and criminal forensics. No longer just a class for science majors, genetics may well enter your life in ways you never expected. Cook-Deegan's book can definately educate as well as entertain.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Without a doubt Cook-Deegan has written the definitive story of the beginnings of the Human Genome Program. He was there and he interviewed all the major players.
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