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The Genomics Age - How DNA Technology is Transforming the Way We Live and Who We Are [Hardcover]


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Book Description

1 Oct 2004
Entertaining, informative, and written in plain English by a world-class science and technology journalist, The Genomics Age explores how recent leaps in the understanding of DNA offer astounding scientific promises, and pose complex ethical issues

Covers all areas of our lives that might change, and subjects that are hot and frequently in the news, such as anti-aging and longevity, stem cell research, “designer” babies, and of course the social, moral and ethical questions that accompany these subjects.

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"The Genomics Age by Gina Smith (ISBN 0-8144-0843-5) was included in Barron's list of the 20 Best Books of 2005. ""Few subjects divide Americans more than genetic manipulation -- from cloning and stem cells to modified foods. Gina Smith's The Genomics Age paints what our reviewer called 'an enjoyable, easy-reading picture of the science for the nonscientist.' ""

Cecil Johnson, nationally syndicated columnist: ""In The Genomic Age Smith provides a plain-English retrospective on DNA, commencing with the discovery of DNA by the Swiss chemist Friedrich Miescher in 1869 and culminating with the completion of the Human Genome Project, the sequencing of the 3 billion base pairs of the human genome.""

Barron's: ""Gina Smith has lit a candle in this scientific darkness with her latest book.The Genomics Age accomplishes a great deal, painting an enjoyable, easy-reading picture of the science for the non-scientist and general reader needing a basic introduction to the subject.""

Science & Theology News: ""This book is a quick, easy and entertaining introduction to genetics. this book will suit people who want to begin to demystify genetic developments with a quick, colorful read.""

AMT Events: .".".an intriguing book that raises many questions and provides some answers to questions that most of us have asked and will need to continue to answer [as] the human genome story unfolds.[Smith] writes lucidly and with a pleasant style. In tackling this broad subject she has done a service to us all. This is a welcome book for any of us who wish to know where [we] currently stand on a variety of extremely important issues.""

Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet: ""Gina Smith provides an accessible introduction to the technology and people enabling the business and research developments....The timely selection of topics brings the audience into the hottest areas of genomics. Written in a first person chatty style, the text moves quickly.

About the Author

Gina Smith was previously technology correspondent for ABC News, where she reported stories for “World News Tonight” with Peter Jennings, “Nightline” with Ted Koppel, “20/20,” “Good Morning America” and “This Week” with Sam Donaldson.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
RIGHT AROUND the time Washington crossed the Delaware River, the French chemist Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier wrote this in his notebook: "La vie est une fonction chimique". Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable Introduction into DNA & Implications 25 Oct 2004
By Roger E. Herman - Published on
We've all heard about DNA. It's an issue, a science, a research endeavor, a discovery, a breakthrough that affects all of us. DNA is in the news, in some context, practically every day. Science is unquestionably a central part of our lives-today and in the future. But why did AMACOM, a publisher of business books, produce a book on genomics? This doesn't sound like a business topic.

Going beyond our initial reaction, we quickly see that the recent discoveries-and their applications-are indeed vital to business development. DNA won't tell you how to manage your people or your finances more effectively, but this book will deliver insights and simulate thinking that will influence thousands of businesses for years to come.

DNA research, with relatively recent discoveries, will drive the development of business endeavors that are the next wave of corporate birth. New companies will spring up to engage in more research in this emerging field, ushering in an era of business development built around DNA, genomics, biogenetics, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, education, and other aspects of our lives. Gaining a fundamental, yet comprehensive, understanding of genomics will give present and future corporate leaders at least an intellectual edge. Having read this book, I can better appreciate what I'm reading in the newspapers and magazines each day about this exploding field.

So who's the author? It's not some little-known scientist who will obfuscate the topic with complicated terminology. This book for Everyman was written by one of America's best-known science and technology journalists. Gina Smith was the technology correspondent for ABC news and has amassed over a decade of experience in researching and writing on technology for the Los Angeles Times, Wired, Popular Science, and other print and broadcast news sources. Even though I am not a scientist, I found the book easy to read and understand. Sure, there are some parts that get a little complicated, but a careful reading will produce significant comprehension. And, if you get confused, there's a 30-page glossary at the end of the book, before the eight-page index, to enlighten you.

Following a helpful introduction, Smith presents ten chapters to organize her material. She begins with an explanation of the basics of the DNA sciences, and then traces the evolution of genomic science from initial discoveries to future opportunities. Applications of DNA knowledge fill the next two chapters, before the book launches into an exploration of specific fields of opportunity. You'll learn about biogerontology-the use of DNA research and manipulation to extend life. Combating cancer, cloning, stem cell research, and gene therapy are all explored. The closing chapter on DNA and Society examines some of the ethical issues that face us as we race into the future with new discoveries and applications.

Leaders will gain valuable knowledge that will help them understand this new field of research and development. A little corporate thinking-and it won't be much of a stretch-will stimulate your thinking about business opportunities. The quotations that are interspersed in the chapters are a little bit of a distraction, but do break up the text to make the flow more readable. I offer a strong recommendation for this book, which will appeal to a wide audience.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Thought-Provoking Book! 13 Feb 2005
By A Customer - Published on
I have to say that I loved this book. It was one of the most entertaining & clear books about science I have ever read.

Like many people, I took science classes at High School and University. But, I only remember some tidbits of what I studied...certainly not enough to have an intelligent conversation about the discoveries taking place with Genomics today. I had also read through scientific articles on the Human Genome Project, but just wasn't able to piece it all together.

Gina Smith's book, however, gave me a thorough and clear understanding on the meaning of the Genomics Age, on how genes predispose you to cancer or fat or other diseases. In plain English, Gina Smith helps give insight into what is happening today and what we should be paying attention to in the near future.

And most importantly, Gina Smith's writing style is enjoyable and delightful to read. It was the best of both worlds -entertaining and thought-provoking.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An overview of the implicationsof genomic research 26 May 2010
By Dr. Bojan Tunguz - Published on
The beginning of the 21st century has been marked by one of the most significant scientific discoveries of all time: that of decoding the entire human genome. Genome is the code that describes how every living organism is built, encoded in terms of millions and millions of "letters" of DNA. Every living cell (with a few notable exceptions) has an exact copy of the entire genome. In the case of human genome for instance, the entire information encoded in the genome would fit about 800 Bibles. No single individual could be able to read that information in any reasonable amount of time. Extracting it from a tiny cell nucleus was an incredible technological and scientific achievement. But even more remarkable than the process by which this information was acquired is the promise of what that information can potentially be used for. In principle, once you understand the genome you have the key for understanding almost any and every disease imaginable. That, in a nutshell, has been the promise of the genomics and this book aims to explore many of the implications of the modern genomics era.

The trouble with writing any book on genomic research is that the developments in this field advance so rapidly that whatever was considered cutting edge just a few years ago quickly becomes unremarkable. However, many of these discoveries are still far from public's mind and it is very useful to have a good overview of the recent developments. The public literacy in these matters is incredibly important because most of the recent discoveries have the promise of radically transforming health and medicine, and the impact of this will be felt by everyone. The ethical issues involved can be very complex, and being well informed about them can only help with handling them more responsibly.

This book provides a very accessible, non-technical overview of some of the more pressing ethical issues that are involved with the recent developments in genetics and cell biology research. However, this is not the exclusive focus of this book. The book is mostly focused on various technologies and how they may be developed, although it does provide few insights into the ethical controversies. The book also provides various historical and biographical anecdotes. The section on what the field of biology looked like just a decade before the discovery of the structure of DNA in 1953 is very revealing, as it shows how just one significant discovery can radically transform whole fields of science. Likewise, there is a very good chance that biology and medicine will look unimaginably different some ten years from today.

The book has its share of flaws, but they are rather minor. I would have liked if it had devoted a bit more space to description of the actual technologies involved. Also, the book repeats the often quoted but rather misleading fact that all humans share 99.9% of all of their genetic information and uses this as evidence that we are all more or less the same. I always found the differences between various individuals to be more interesting than the similarities. The fact that Michael Jordan and I are 99.9% same will not make me feel any better about my lack of achievement in playing basketball. Similarly, it could be downright irresponsible for doctors to neglect variations between groups and individuals when deciding on the course of treatment. In the field of medicine, these "minute" differences can literally be a matter of life and death.

Aside from these few issues, I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who has any interest in the recent developments in genomics.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DNA and public concerns 27 Jan 2005
By David W. Michaelis - Published on
An excellent contribution towards an insightful understadnig of this new age. The ethical dillemas are integrated within a very lucid description of the progress that scientist have made.The writer answers many of the questions that we the citizens have to ask about the promises and dangers of the breakthroughs made recently. The advances in the DNA technology,are analysed based on interviews with the best minds within the scientific conmunity.

david michaelis

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plain language explanation of an interesting field 5 April 2005
By Jay McCarthy - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am not an expert in the field of genetics, nor in biology and related fields. Yet, I am generally interested in such things. Gina Smith's book solves my problem of not being able to read cutting-edge research and not wanting to continually gather articles from magazines and newspapers (because genetics is only _one_ of my interests.) I felt like I learned a lot and recalibrated my expectations of what is possible with the insights of this field.
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