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A Life Decoded


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J. Craig Venter is one of the leading scientists of the 21st century. He has made visionary contributions in genomic research. He is founder and president of the J. Craig Venter Institute and the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation.


A great deal has been written about Venter as the head of Celera, the private research company that won a race with the National Institutes of Health's Human Genome Project to sequence the human genome. His role in this historic accomplishment has been both vilified and praised. Now, in a clumsily written autobiography, Venter offers his side of the story, portraying himself as the eternal underdog, fighting for truth and attempting to make scientific discoveries solely to help others. He is opposed in this struggle by a cadre of scientists out to advance their own careers, by a federal bureaucracy incapable of rationally using public funds to promote scientific advances and by the heads of corporations willing to do almost anything to make money. Venter accuses all of the big players-the Human Genome Project's Frances Collins and Nobel laureate James Watson, among many others-of outright dishonesty. Ignore the hyperbole and be skeptical of the accusations, but there's still a terribly depressing story about the politics of big science. Venter also attempts to contextualize the controversy swirling around the patenting of DNA sequences. Despite the lack of unbiased insight, this is well worth reading for the fascinating perspective it offers on one of the major scientific discoveries of all time. (Oct. 22) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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

Surfer, Vietnam War medic, and founder of Celera Genomics, Venter is probably best known for his role in the private sector's sequencing the human genome prior to the federally funded Human Genome Project. His autobiography is a colorful, firsthand account of intense egos and competition among research labs and national governments and at sea, where his J. Craig Venter Institute sponsors a sailboat equipped with sequencing machines to investigate marine microbial populations. While not overly modest, Venter does acknowledge many of his collaborators and paints an intriguing picture of the challenges, complexities, and dilemmas of cutting-edge science and medical research. What may surprise readers is the tentativeness and uncertainty of his conclusions about potential impacts of his genes on his health (one of the genome samples sequenced was his own), but that's the reality of the early developmental stage of today's genome sequencing. Venter argues convincingly that it will take decades to get a big-picture view of what our genes can and will tell us about ourselves. Patrons who enjoyed James Shreeve's The Genome War, John Sulston and Georgina Ferry's The Common Thread, and/or Robert Cook-Deegan's The Gene Wars will find Venter's account a readable, provocative addition to collections.-Mary Chitty, Cambridge Healthtech, Needham, MA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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