A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life (Penguin Press Science) Paperback – 30 Oct 2008
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Maverick, publicity hound, risk-taker, brash, controversial, genius, manic, rebellious, visionary, audacious, arrogant, feisty, determined, provocative. His autobiography shows they are all justified (Nature)
An all-action autobiography (, Books of the Year Financial Times)
Craig Venter has scorched a trail through genetics … A Life Decoded is a page-turner throughout (New Scientist)
The first genetic autobiography. It is also a cracking story (, Books of the Year The Times)
The man who shook up the cosy world of scientific research … a brilliant book. Beautifully written, it is not only the most gripping but also the most important scientist's autobiography since James Watson's Double Helix (Sunday Telegraph)
Rebel, maverick, outsider and the Bono of genetics … the book is a voyage of discovery (Guardian)
May be as important a book as James D. Watson's Double Helix (, Books of the Year Sunday Times)
Few scientists have stoked the flames of debate quite like Craig Venter … A blow-by-blow journey through a frankly astonishing career (Scotsman)
'This book marks the beginning of something new. It is the first molecular biography … Venter's account is never less than engaging' Sunday Times'A wonderfully original work … brims with entertaining revelations about the feuds, fights and friendships that underlie great research projects' Financial Times Magazine
Craig Venter is no ordinary scientist, and no ordinary man. He is the first human being ever to read their own DNA - and see the key to life itself. Yet in doing so, he rocked the establishment and became embroiled in one of the biggest controversies of our age. This is the story of his incredible life: from teenage rebel and Vietnam medic, to daredevil sailor and maverick researcher, whose race to unravel the sequence of the human genome made him both hero and pariah. Incorporating his own genetic make-up into his story, this is an electrifying portrait of a man who pushed back the boundaries of the possible.See all Product description
Customers who bought this item also bought
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
His detractors accuse him of gene patenting and thereby restricting availability of data to the scientific community. Moreover, his shotgun method of gene sequencing is not the innovative method of interpreting the huge deluge of data made available by rapid development of computer technology and software, but is a shortcut in order to take the credit and leaving the hardwork of completing the human genome to others.
I am not qualified to judge this case. But I can identify with Venter. I started a laboratory which used innovative NIR technology which quickly superceded conventional wet chemical techniques used by highly qualified publicly funded laboratories for organic material analysis. I have experienced the venom of the public sector's rage and accusations of inaccuracy for 9 years before the newly privatised government labs (Genus) promptly bought out my lab and adopted our NIR techniques for similar applications. .
The approach of describing the development of the science interspersed with discussion of issues using his own his own personal genetic map to interpret the science brings the mind stretching descriptions of the genetic science down to earth. For example: When Caffeine kills. Venter drinks endless cups of coffee but carries a benign gene which allows him to metabolise caffeine. Many studies that have looked at the association between coffee consumption and heart attacks have been inconclusive because they took no account of the presence or absence of that gene.
The key accusation against Ventor is his complicity with the pharmaceutical industry in their attempts to patent gene data to the detriment of the the free exchange of data between research scientists. The public genome effort was free of patents because the data it produced was deposited into Gen-Bank, the public repository of DNA sequences without any understanding or context. Ventor's commercial organisation also permitted researchers free, open and unrestricted use of their human genome sequence data. But he argues this raw data is of little value to scientists, biotech companies, the pharmaceutical industry or the public without interpretation. Ventor provided leading edge molecular biology with heavyweight computation to reveal the logic of biology to paying customers. And pharmaceutical companies needed patents on this data to justify the huge investment required to develop effective drugs and remedies.
Who is right?
No doubt a one sided account of the controversy but fascinating reading.
Of course his text is a setting straight of records and a settling of old scores: major figures such as James Watson, Francis Collins and John Sulston are all, let's say critically appraised, along with Venter's various business partners, ex-colleagues and even ex-partners. He leaves no-one of consequence unscathed. However, in his defence he no doubt suffered at times unjustly at the hands of PR machines and he did, one way or another, accelerate the human genome project to its conclusion, if only as a consequence of others wanting to keep the control from his grasp. All of this one can analyse and conjecture on ad infinitum, probably without conclusion or perhaps even merit. The book does nevertheless find its place on the shelf of those telling the story of one of the most remarkable scientific achievements of all time.
Undoubtedly though the most engaging and formative parts of J. Craig Venter are his early experiences in being transformed from carefree, outdoor Californian sportsman to wearied Vietnam veteran, affected without doubt by his up-close experience of suffering and death in desperate field hospitals. It seems that here his undoubted drive; intelligence and belligerence locked on to a purpose that has so far sustained him. But in the end his scientific life presents a sadly unattractive picture of cut-throat competition where one is first or nowhere. You are with J. Craig Venter (and clearly he inspired a good many to complete loyalty for his cause) or you are against him. Is this the best science can do? Here the gap opens between his apparent desire to use science and medicine to relieve suffering and the reality of his almost total focus on winning: be it at the helm of his laboratory or his yacht. Are the punctuated references to societal benefits merely a flimsy sop to legitimize total selfishness? After reading this book the worrying thing is I am not sure even Venter knows. He is too busy winning.