Code Breaker is more than a tribute to Jennifer Doudna and other notable scientists who have burst on our consciousness during the recent pandemic. It covers three revolutions of modern time beginning 100 years ago with the atom and quantum theory; next coming in the second half of the 20th Century, the information technology of the 1950s with the microchip, computers, internet. Enter the third revolution, that of joining life science and digital coding.
The fascinating history of this journey gives life to the names and careers in raw science, as well as those involved in genomes, bacteria, viruses, cures and prevention of diseases and mutations in our lives. Stories and photographs follow these people who have worked and competed, confronted coronavirus, and present the modern day miracles that we meet. Their names are global and backgrounds range from growing up in poverty in China to the hallowed labs of Stanford, Harvard and Cold Spring Harbor.
Interwoven with these people, Jennifer Doudna’s guiding hand in CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palendromic Retreat) makes exciting reading as well as a look into the moral and ethnical problems that come from each new find. The genius, collaboration and competition of these heroes of science resulted in three competing companies, CRISPR Therapeutics, EDITAS Medicine, and Intellia Therapeutics.
There are many side trips and the book almost begins to sound like science-fiction as Doudna ventures further into the arena of genotechnology. Mad scientists converge, discover, meld and uncover in a swirl that leads two of them to claim for a business maxim: “Don’t fight over divying up the proceeds until you finish robbing the stagecoach.” As CRISPRS RNA, press on, the making of a Nobel Prize in Chemistry began for Jennifer and Emmanelle Charpetier began.
One of the many side trips even resulted in the artificial insemination of genes which worked resulted in the birth of twin girls. The plot really thickens here as ethics, choices, decisions and who makes them take center stage. Out of the chaos in 2020 Emmanelle Charpentier and Jennifer are awarded the 2020 prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry about “rewriting the circle of life.” This recognition was one more step in the world of science and a giant step forward for the role of women in this field.
There is so much to appreciate in Code about the Doudna – Charpentier role in vaccines, and the COVID-19 break-through. The marvel and the people who made it happen are described with Isaacson’s own genius and style in the telling so that with awe and confidence we can anticipate the waves of the future in our amazing world.
As it bounces from problems to solutions to dreams and visions of the future, the reader knows that if ever there is a must read, The Code Breaker, Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing and the Future of the Human Race qualifies.
Thank you, Full Circle Book Store, for sharing this book with FRIDAY readers.