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The Gene Wars: Science, Politics, and the Human Genome
     

The Gene Wars: Science, Politics, and the Human Genome

by Robert Cook-Deegan
 

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“Probably the most authoritative account of the genesis and early stages of the Human Genome Project. . . . This book tells it the way it was—and is.” —Victor A. McKusick, University Professor of Medical Genetics, Johns Hopkins University
The Human Genome Project, the most ambitious biological research program ever undertaken, was born in

Overview

“Probably the most authoritative account of the genesis and early stages of the Human Genome Project. . . . This book tells it the way it was—and is.” —Victor A. McKusick, University Professor of Medical Genetics, Johns Hopkins University
The Human Genome Project, the most ambitious biological research program ever undertaken, was born in controversy. Heralded by its more enthusiastic proponents as a quest for the 'Holy Grail of biology' - and the key, ultimately, to the treatment of a variety of hereditary diseases - it has as its initial goal the mapping of all the genes in the entire three-billion-letter genetic code embodied in the DNA of a typical human cell. A major factor in the counterarguments of its opponents: its projected cost, estimated to run into the billions of dollars, spread over 10-20 years. In this firsthand account of the protracted struggle to launch the genome project, a close observer of that process - and sometime participant in it - unravels the tangled scientific and political threads of the story, relying on primary documents gathered even as events unfolded, supplemented by interviews with all the main actors - including the controversial first head of the National Institutes of Health genome effort, Nobel laureate James D. Watson. The result is an absorbing case study in the politics of modern science - focused in this case on a project with far-reaching medical and social implications.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Launched in 1990 with federal support, the Human Genome Project to map the genetic code embodied in the six feet of DNA coiled inside every human cell holds the promise of identifying the genes involved in specific diseases. Cook-Degan, a physician and consultant who directed a 1988 Congressional study on genome research and is now with the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine, tracks the program's early history and politics in this absorbing study. James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA's double-helix structure, was the genome project's first director; his status as the ``father of DNA'' helped win funding from Congress by mollifying critics who deemed the project overcentralized Big Science of dubious practical value. As the project became a global collaborative effort, U.S. scientists clashed with Japanese researchers eager to wed its goals to corporate biotechnology interests. Yet a similar process now seems to be underway in the U.S. with the expanding role of commercial investment in genome research. Cook-Degan weighs the ethical issues surrounding the genome project, which raises the specter of discrimination in employment and insurance through genetic screening and testing. (Mar.)
Booknews
Cook-Deegan, a former director of the Biomedical Ethics Advisory Committee of the US Congress and an advisor to the National Center for Human Genome Research, gives a firsthand account of the struggle to launch the Human Genome Project. Using primary documents and interviews, Cook-Deegan explains scientific details, chronicles the origins of the project, covers the conflicts and partnerships between the organizations involved, and examines ethical, legal, and social issues of DNA research. Includes b&w photos. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393313994
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
01/17/1996
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Robert Cook-Deegan became Director of the IGSP's Center for Genome Ethics, Law & Policy in July 2002. He was previously director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellowship program (2000-2002) at the Institute of Medicine (IOM), National Academy of Sciences, a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Investigator at Georgetown University (1999-2002), and a seminar leader at Stanford-in-Washington (1996-2003). He worked at The National Academies in various capacities from 1991 until coming to Duke.

He is the author of The Gene Wars: Science, Politics, and the Human Genome (New York: Norton, 1994; paperback 1996; tr. Korean 1995, Japanese 1996) and an author on over 200 articles.

Dr. Cook-Deegan was a member of the Board of Directors, Physicians for Human Rights, 1988-1996, with whom he participated in human rights missions to Turkey, Iraq and Panama.

In 1996, Dr. Cook-Deegan was a Cecil and Ida Green Fellow at the University of Texas, Dallas, following his work for the report Allocating Federal Funds for Science and Technology (the "Press Report"). From 1991-4, he directed IOM' s Division of Biobehavioral Sciences and Mental Disorders. He worked for the National Center for Human Genome Research 1989-90, after serving Acting Executive Director of the Biomedical Ethics Advisory Committee of the U.S. Congress 1988-9. Dr. Cook-Deegan was a AAAS Congressional Science & Engineering Fellow 1982-3 and spent six years at the congressional Office of Technology Assessment. This followed two years of postdoctoral research on the molecular biology of oncogenes with Lasker Award scientist Raymond L. Erikson, after completing his internship in pathology at the University of Colorado. He received his MD degree from the University of Colorado in 1979 and his bachelor' s degree in chemistry, magna cum laude, in 1975 from Harvard College. He grew up in Denver.

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