Here Is a Human Being: At the Dawn of Personal Genomics

Here Is a Human Being: At the Dawn of Personal Genomics

by Misha Angrist
     
 

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Here is a Human Being delivers the first in-depth look at the Personal Genome Project—the effort to construct complete genomic maps of a specific human beings—written by one of the study’s ten human participants. Misha Angrist recounts the project’s fascinating nuances, including the larger-than-life personalities of the research

Overview

Here is a Human Being delivers the first in-depth look at the Personal Genome Project—the effort to construct complete genomic maps of a specific human beings—written by one of the study’s ten human participants. Misha Angrist recounts the project’s fascinating nuances, including the larger-than-life personalities of the research subjects, the entrepreneurial scientists at the helm, the bewildered and overwhelmed physicians and regulators who negotiated for it, the fascinating technology it employed, and the political, social, ethical and familial issues it continues to raise. In the vein of James Shreeve’s The Genome War, Craig J. Ventner’s My Life Decoded, and Francis J. Collins’ The Language of Life, Angrist’s informed exploration of this cutting-edge science is a gripping look at the present and future of genomics.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

When a geneticist friend learned that Angrist, an assistant professor at Duke's Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, had volunteered to participate in the first phase of Harvard University's 2009 Genome Project (which makes the genome of its participants public), he asked, "Why in God's name would you want to do that?" Here is a Human Being is Angrist's answer. The Project will ultimately create a publicly-accessible database matching the genotypes of hundreds of thousands of volunteers to their observable physical characteristics (phenotypes), providing an invaluable resource for health providers and researchers in understanding genetic vulnerabilities to a variety of diseases and conditions, and also opening the door to several potential hazards (ineligibility for life insurance; identity theft; the psychological consequences of bad genetic news). But for Angrist and nine other geneticists chosen for the initial phase, the scientific benefits outweighed any personal implications. His family supported his decision and Angrist, a Pushcart Prize winner, offers an account of his experience with clear explanations of the science involved and page-turning suspense about the frontiers of genetic research.
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Kirkus Reviews

A former genetic counselor investigates personal genomics.

Angrist, an assistant professor at the Duke University Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy, volunteered to participate in the first phase of Harvard University's Personal Genome Project, which sought to create a publicly available database of hundreds of thousands of individuals. The database would correlate individual genotypes to phenotypes (i.e., observable characteristics), creating an invaluable resource for health providers, researchers and other scientific and medical professionals. Because of bioethical considerations, academics (mostly geneticists) were chosen for the preliminary study. They would be best able to evaluate potential unintended negative consequences for themselves and their families of revealing such information publicly. Angrist discussed the risks with his family before signing a consent form, but he still felt trepidation when the results of his tests became available. He describes how he spent days in "hand-to-hand combat mode, going gene by gene." Though there were no hidden minefields, he found the information to be frustrating. "I would find mutations in genes that coded for proteins," he writes, "but the proteins' ascribed functions would be so general and/or tentative...as to be meaningless. In some cases, the proteins didn't even have names, let alone functions assigned to them." Nevertheless, Angrist remained excited, not by"the prospect of digging into my data every day, but by the collective aggregation of genomes and traits and the years of code-breaking we have ahead of us." He is convinced that that as the database as grows, it will play a part in demystifying the genome and become one of the most important tools for the development of preventative medicine.

Angrist artfully uses his personal experiences to introduce readers to the frontiers of genetic knowledge today and its promise for the future.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061628337
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/02/2010
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
9.52(w) x 11.78(h) x 1.19(d)

Meet the Author

Misha Angrist is an assistant professor at the Duke University Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife and two daughters.

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