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Here Is a Human Being: At the Dawn of Personal Genomics 1st Edition
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Once considered a fanciful topic confined to speculative fiction, DNA-based science has blossomed in the last decade to encompass a wide range of real world technologies. Apart from already commonplace DNA testing in the criminal justice system, commercial interests now exploit genetic information to produce hardier crops and forecast the likelihood of humans developing specific illnesses. Angrist, a Duke University genetics professor with the added pedigree of an MFA in writing, is ideally suited for probing and explaining this often-befuddling field in crisp, easily digestible prose. His chief focus here is on the slice of DNA tinkering known as personal genomics and Angrist’s own participation in a Harvard-funded project to map the entire genomes of its human subjects. Along with providing a fascinating close-up view of cutting edge science, Angrist explores the many thorny questions provoked by genome sequencing, such as whether humans really want to know about their future infirmities, and whether everyone’s DNA blueprint should be freely posted on the Internet. A vitally important and timely study of a society-changing technology. --Carl Hays
From the Back Cover
The first in-depth look at personal genomics: its larger-than-life research subjects; its entrepreneurs and do-it-yourselfers; its technology developers; the bewildered and overwhelmed physicians and regulators who must negotiate it; and what it means to be a "public genome" in a world where privacy is already under siege
In 2007, Misha Angrist became the fourth subject in the Personal Genome Project, George Church's ambitious plan to sequence the entire genomic catalog: every participant's twenty thousand–plus genes and the rest of his or her 6 billion base pairs. Church hopes to better understand how genes influence our physical traits, from height and athletic ability to behavior and weight, and our medical conditions, from cancer and diabetes to obesity and male pattern baldness. Now Angrist reveals startling information about the experiment's participants and scientists; how the experiment was, is, and will be conducted; the discoveries and potential discoveries; and the profound implications of having an unfiltered view of our hardwired selves for us and for our children.
DNA technology has already changed our health care, the food we eat, and our criminal justice system. Unlocking the secrets of our genomes opens the door not only to helping us understand why we are the way we are and potentially fixing what ails us but also to many other concerns: What exactly will happen to this information? Will it become just another marketing tool? Can it help us understand our ancestry, or will it merely reinforce old ideas of race? Can personal genomics help fix the U.S. health care system?
Here Is a Human Being explores these complicated questions while documenting Angrist's own fascinating journey—one that tens of thousands of us will soon make.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
When I started reading this book, I expected something a lot different than what i got, but I feel that this is a good thing. I don't think this book will necessarily appeal to science lovers and researchers; it is light compared to the hefty tomes that more suit those wanting in-depth knowledge of any subject. It covers the basics so that it can be brought to the average person who *isn't* a scientist, which is what appealed to me as I read it.
Best of all, you realistically only need middle or high school level science to understand what is going on in the book, which opens this title to the average teenager, if that sort of research is up their alley. I also like the general message of this book, and how it pursues the potential impact of genomics on base society.
If you've wondered what all this "genome" stuff is all about, the author also narrates the human genome project, and how scientists have achieved the capability to affordably sequence a human being. He's met all the big names, the legends, the people on the cutting edge of science and he shares his impressions and interactions.
It's a great book, a fun read, and a journey of introspection for the author and for the reader.
That's important context for my review. I found the book very interesting, but I had a lot of trouble following it. It felt a bit jumbled to me. The book explores both the technology of studying human genomes and the ethics and other human issues surrounding it. The main focus is a project that sought to sequence and make public the genomes of 10 individuals who were selected because of their knowledge and understanding of the field. Angrist does try to explain the technology and science but I got a bit lost in it at times. I was more drawn to the ethical issues and thought they were well explored. I was drawn to a few individual stories (esp. a young girl whose father was trying to identify the condition that caused her health struggles. I cared less about the battles between different companies and different techniques for gene study.
There's a lot of information in this book, a lot of good information, and I'd give it high marks for content. But the form was hard to follow and made the reading experience much more difficult. It might be better suited for someone a bit closer to the scientific realm or with a bit more patience for pushing through the information.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Here is a Human Being really needs to be read like a story, and it also calls out to be read like deconstructing a piece of jewelry or craftwork...Read more
Largely, the book is about (unintentionally, I'm sure) the incredible amount of narcissism...Read more