The Brown Bag Book Club will meet in person at Parr Library on Thursday, October 27, at noon, to discuss The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson.
The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson
An incredible journey of discovery. Jennifer Doudna had been fascinated with discovering how nature works since girlhood. Her interest ignited when her father gave her a copy of The Double Helix, which told the story of the search for the code of life–DNA. In pursuit of knowledge, Doudna earned doctorates in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology. She joined the faculty at the University of California and there began to study CRISPR. CRISPR was already known to chop up an invading infectious virus in nature. However, Doudna and a collaborator unlocked a simple method for scientists to use CRISPR to cut DNA and edit genes. The discovery meant genetic engineering was now a relatively simple process that could cure disease and alter life, opening the floodgates of innovation across a range of fields from biology to agriculture. It also came with moral questions and responsibilities. The discovery brought Doudna and her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, a plethora of awards including the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
The Code Breaker is an excellent biography and an accessible explanation of the biggest thing in science. This is a book you will not regret reading.
“In this latest work, best-selling author Isaacson (Steve Jobs) takes a close look at how scientific collaboration actually happens in the modern age, in particular the tension between academic institutions and industry. The author does an admirable job of explaining science in accessible terms and also focusing on the human side of the story… Similar to his previous works, Isaacson’s latest is another absorbing story of scientific discovery. The final section on the use of CRISPR to combat COVID-19 will only widen the appeal.” – Library Journal
“A diligent historian and researcher, Isaacson lucidly explains CRISPR and refuses to pass it off as a far-fetched magic show. Some scientific concepts (nuclear fission, evolution) are easy to grasp but not CRISPR. Using charts, analogies, and repeated warnings for readers to pay attention, the author describes a massively complicated operation in which humans can program heredity. Those familiar with college-level biology will have a better time, but nobody will regret the reading experience. A vital book about the next big thing in science–and yet another top-notch biography from Isaacson.” – Kirkus
Walter Isaacson is University Professor of History at Tulane. He has written a number of acclaimed biographies. His subjects include Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, and Albert Einstein.