An Immense New Power to Heal: The Promise of Personalized Medicine

An Immense New Power to Heal: The Promise of Personalized Medicine

by Lee Gutkind, Pagan Kennedy
     
 

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Is personalized medicine—what some scientists call genetic medicine—a pipe dream or a panacea? Francis Collins, current director of the National Institutes of Health and director of the Human Genome Project, considers this new era “the greatest revolution since Leonardo,” while Nobel Laureate Leland Hartwell compares personalized medicine to a

Overview

Is personalized medicine—what some scientists call genetic medicine—a pipe dream or a panacea? Francis Collins, current director of the National Institutes of Health and director of the Human Genome Project, considers this new era “the greatest revolution since Leonardo,” while Nobel Laureate Leland Hartwell compares personalized medicine to a train that has not yet left the station—“a very slow train with a very long way to go . . . before we arrive at our destination.”

There is no denying that new technology, which has triggered an explosion of scientific information, is ushering in a revolution in medicine—for specialists, general practitioners and the public. Anyone can spit in a cup and, for a small fee, learn about his or her individual genetic make-up. But how useful is this information, really, to us or to our doctors? What’s more, how much do we truly want to know—and have others know—about our possible destiny? There is more than we can imagine at stake.

In An Immense New Power to Heal, authors Lee Gutkind and Pagan Kennedy delve into the personal side of personalized medicine and offer the physician’s perspective and the patient’s experience through intimate narratives and case studies. They also offer an intriguing background of the personalized medicine movement including the fascinating personalities of the key scientists involved as well as a glimpse into the in-fighting that accompanies any race for a scientific breakthrough. The result is a highly engaging, lively, and provocative discussion about this revolution in health care, and most importantly, what it really means for patients now and in the future.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The Human Genome Project, which surveyed the entire human hereditary structure, promised to usher in a revolutionary age of medicine. Armed with knowledge of their own genetic flaws, say Gutkind (Almost Human: Making Robots Think) and Kennedy (The First Man-Made Man, a study of two 1940s transsexuals), patients could make early, life-saving decisions and get more targeted treatments. But this troubling account finds that this promise hasn’t been realized because—thanks to the structure of our health-care system and the complex results genetic tests provide—most health-care providers don’t use genetic testing. The authors follow the stories of innovative patients and doctors, including Michael Saks, who wanted to know if his family history of pancreatic cancer meant the disease was his destiny; Steve Murphy, the “Gene Sherpa” who set out to be the first private practitioner of personalized medicine; and Nobel winner Leland Hartwell, who helped discover biomarkers that explained the mechanisms of cancer. Gutkind and Kennedy giddily trumpet the extraordinary possibilities of technology and information in preventing sickness. And they’re especially optimistic about the role of the Internet in giving patients access to life-saving information and to one another, since ultimately, they claim, it’ll be patients who’ll nudge doctors into the brave new world of personalized medicine. (May)
From the Publisher

Critical Praise for Almost Human: Making Robots Think and Many Sleepless Nights by Lee Gutkind:

"Gutkind's reporting captures the individual quirks of the scientists...it gives a solid sense of what's going on in the field."—Publishers Weekly

“A wild book…[A] crazy suspense story . . . fascinating stuff.”—Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show

“Dramatic, moving account of transplantation patients and the technology involved.” —Publishers Weekly

“A fascinating look at the emotional and physical complexities of a harrowing process.”—Booklist

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781937163075
Publisher:
Fourth Chapter Books
Publication date:
03/23/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
455 KB

Meet the Author

Lee Gutkind has been exploring the world of medicine, technology and science through writing for more than 25 years and is the author of more than 20 books. Gutkind is founder and editor of the popular journal Creative Nonfiction the first and largest literary journal to publish nonfiction exclusively. Vanity Fair proclaimed Gutkind “the Godfather” behind the creative nonfiction movement, and Harper’s noted that he is “the leading figure behind the creative nonfiction movement.” Gutkind is Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes and professor in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University.

Pagan Kennedy is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books, including The First Man-Made Man, which earned a Booklist starred review, and The Dangerous Joy of Dr. Sex and other True Stories. Her biography Black Livingston was a New York Times Notable Book in 2002. She is a Knight Fellow in Science Journalism at MIT and was named the 2010/2011 Creative Nonfiction grant winner by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. She has taught fiction and nonfiction writing at Dartmouth College, the Warren Wilson MFA program, Boston College and Johns Hopkins.

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