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Book Club October 4, 2021, at 2-4pm – Fellows & External Fellows Only

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October 4, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Book Club October 4, 2021, at 2-4pm – Fellows & External Fellows Only

Walter Isaacson, The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing and the Future of the Human Race, 2021

Chair: Bill Logan

We have also enclosed an abbreviated reading (our ‘Coles Notes’) so that those who are pressed for time in managing longer books can still participate. The program extract for our next book, The Code Breaker, is appended along with the registration link. A somewhat longer description of our next book and abbreviated reading is set out below.

535pp, Notes=52, available in e-book and audio-book format)

(Abbreviated reading: Introduction, Parts 1, 2, 3, 7, 9, Epilogue)

A highly readable book about the discovery of CRISPR, for which Jennifer Doudna shared the Nobel Prize in 2020. The book describes the scientific stumbling blocks, the breakthroughs achieved by many scientists, and, perhaps most importantly, the ethical issues raised by the emerging capacity to edit genes. Long book, but easy reading.

Special thanks to Sara Shettleworth and the science subcommittee for this superb book which is at once a biography on a remarkable woman pioneer in a highly competitive, male-dominated threshold field of science, an accessible introduction to genes and gene editing, as well as to the ethics of CRISPR babies and of ‘Red Lines’ that should not at present be crossed. (But of course, will be!)  This is an ideal science book to entertain and inform us—indeed, to stretch our minds well beyond our disciplines!  

It’s an easy read but a rather long one. Be patient, especially with the science in the first two parts–The Origins of Life and Crispr (3-149 pp). You need to understand the ‘Code of Life’ from billions of years of evolution and the surprising ease with which we can now edit it.  

In Part Three (153-241 pp), the story shifts to the politics of science – both its collaboration and its competition: the race for scientists to be first recognized, granted prizes, and awarded patents. No surprise here: human, all too-human. 

I do not think you need omit any parts of this book unless pressed for time, but if so, move from Part Three directly to Part Seven (335-370) on ethics and Part Nine (401-475) on Coronavirus and the role gene editing plays in our current pandemic. 

The link to register is https://forms.office.com/r/p16JWg4QTW.

The deadline to register is the morning of the event at 8:00am. The Zoom link will be sent to registrants only on the morning of the event.


October 4, 2021
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Event Category: