Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives--and Our Lives Change Our Genes

Inheritance: How Our Genes Change Our Lives--and Our Lives Change Our Genes

2.5 2
by Sharon Moalem MD, PhD

View All Available Formats & Editions

Award-winning physician and New York Times bestselling author Sharon Moalem, MD, PhD, reveals how genetic breakthroughs are completely transforming our understanding of both the world and our lives.


Conventional wisdom dictates that our genetic destiny is fixed at conception. But Dr. Moalem's groundbreaking book shows us that the human

See more details below

  • Checkmark Thought-Provoking Books  Shop Now


Award-winning physician and New York Times bestselling author Sharon Moalem, MD, PhD, reveals how genetic breakthroughs are completely transforming our understanding of both the world and our lives.


Conventional wisdom dictates that our genetic destiny is fixed at conception. But Dr. Moalem's groundbreaking book shows us that the human genome is far more fluid and fascinating than your ninth grade biology teacher ever imagined. By bringing us to the bedside of his unique and complex patients, he masterfully demonstrates what rare genetic conditions can teach us all about our own health and well-being.

In the brave new world we're rapidly rocketing into, genetic knowledge has become absolutely crucial. INHERITANCE provides an indispensable roadmap for this journey by teaching you:

-Why you may have recovered from the psychological trauma caused by childhood bullying-but your genes may remain scarred for life.

-How fructose is the sugar that makes fruits sweet-but if you have certain genes, consuming it can buy you a one-way trip to the coroner's office.

-Why ingesting common painkillers is like dosing yourself repeatedly with morphine-if you have a certain set of genes.

-How insurance companies legally use your genetic data to predict the risk of disability for you and your children-and how that impacts the coverage decisions they make for your family.

-How to have the single most important conversation with your doctor-one that can save your life.

And finally:

-Why people with rare genetic conditions hold the keys to medical problems affecting millions.

In this trailblazing book, Dr. Moalem employs his wide-ranging and entertaining interdisciplinary approach to science and medicine— explaining how art, history, superheroes, sex workers, and sports stars all help us understand the impact of our lives on our genes, and our genes on our lives. INHERITANCE will profoundly alter how you view your genes, your health—and your life.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - David Dobbs
Moalem sometimes tries too hard to entertain…But the man is loaded with weird findings and great stories…Moalem's earthy, patient-focused account reminds us that whatever its promise, genetics yet stands at a humble place.
Publishers Weekly
Geneticist and bestselling author Moalem (How Sex Works) aims to promote awareness about genes and how they function in this enjoyable read. Writing primarily in a casual tone, Moalem demonstrates an unerring instinct for picking eye-catching discoveries in gene research to write about—this instinct is both a blessing and a curse. The excitement of his prose is palpable: “From striking a ball with a tennis racket, to pinching the cheeks of a loved one, to the bouncing here, there, and everywhere joy of gummy bears, that elastic ‘snap back into shape’ action you’re feeling is all thanks to collagen.” But while the writing is never over-burdened with scientific jargon, it often lacks cautionary notes and vital information that helps to put new research in its proper context. For example, he discusses a study that found striking epigenetic changes in a bullied twin that were not apparent in the twin sibling who wasn’t bullied. Moalem overstates the significance of this finding, claiming “in no uncertain terms” what the rather small study itself says merely “supports a hypothesis,” which may mislead readers. Otherwise, however, Moalem’s book is a page-turner and will surely inspire people to get better educated about genes and genetics. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"Dr. Moalem tells fascinating stories so you will easily understand the complexities of modern genetic science." Temple Grandin, PhD, New York Times bestselling author of The Autistic Brain and Thinking in Pictures"

In INHERITANCE, Sharon Moalem peels away at the complex discussion of nature and nurture by looking at how unique cases inform the fundamental system of genes, environments, and experiences-teaching us how our dynamic identities come into being."
Dan Ariely, PhD, James B. Duke Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics, Duke University and New York Times bestselling author of Predictably Irrational"

This book is a thought provoking and most enlightening journey into the very essence of who we are. Dr. Moalem's writing style is clear and uses great examples to help us appreciate our genetic selves. In INHERITANCE we have a new understanding that we are not at all destined to any particular future or outcome encoded within our DNA. Indeed, the whole notion that life's events, trivial and non-trivial, shape who we are has profound consequences for how we live and, in fields like biotechnology, how this learning can help us better to diagnose, treat and cure- and to extend and enhance human life." John F. Crowley, Chairman and CEO of Amicus Therapeutics, and author of Chasing Miracles: The Crowley Family Journey of Strength, Hope and Joy"

Dr. Moalem is an eloquent guide through the astonishing new world of genetic discovery - with all its implications for both personal health and public policy. If you've wondered about the impact of genetics on your life- read this book!" —Kinney Zalesne, New York Times bestselling author of Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes"

We have long thought that the genetic code we were born with was the genetic code we were stuck with. No longer. Dr. Moalem explains how the genetics that determine whether we get sick or stay healthy can change during the course of our lifetime, and we how can exert some control over these changes. In this exceedingly engaging and highly informative book, Dr. Moalem uses engrossing stories to make complicated genetics easily comprehensible to people without backgrounds in the biological sciences. Reading this book could literally affect generations to come." —J. Russell Teagarden, PhD. Senior Vice President, Medical and Scientific Affairs, National Organization For Rare Disorders (NORD)"

Many people will enjoy reading this easy to read book on a very complex, real and highly personal subject. It will remove mysteries and create others. It will give the lay reader a sense of the rapidly growing understanding of this field. I highly recommend it to everyone." —Henri A. Termeer, Former CEO and President of Genzyme Corp.

"Inheritance is a wide-ranging and breezily written survey of an immensely important field-the science of how we may "tweak" our fixed genetic heritage to produce health and well-being. The narrative moves quickly... It is especially thrilling for a geneticist, of all people, to emphasize "it's not only what our genes give us that's important, but also what we give to our genes." Scientific American"

In his new book, Moalem describes riveting dramas emerging from both defective genes and reparative epigenetics...fascinating." —The New York Times Book Review

Kirkus Reviews
A compendium of facts and case studies on genes. Moalem (How Sex Works: Why We Look, Smell, Taste, Feel, and Act the Way We Do, 2009, etc.) examines two main ideas: 1) that your genes are not your destiny—environment and behavior can tune genes up or down or turn other genes on or off in the process of "epigenetic" control; 2) that nobody is "average." We are all unique in our DNA and how our lives interact with that endowment, so beware of "average daily requirements" and other recommendations. Moalem illustrates these tenets with intriguing stories—e.g., a chef who switched from his meat-heavy, high-fat diet to emphasize fruits and vegetables only to discover that he felt lousy due to the fact that he suffered from hereditary fructose intolerance. Sadly the author relates the story of a little girl given codeine for pain following a tonsillectomy. She had an extra gene coding for the enzyme metabolizing the drug, which resulted in rapid production of excess morphine, which killed her. Moalem describes studies of stress in infant mice (leading them to "give up" when faced with adverse conditions as adults), dietary influences on bee larvae (those given royal jelly become queens; the others, workers) and bullying (one study shows blunted cortisol responses in adulthood). Moalem argues for the usefulness of knowing your genome but is also concerned that the information could be hacked and used against you. He recommends getting detailed medical histories from relatives and explains how even examining your face can be informative about your genetic history. The author covers a wide range of subjects: rare diseases, what's bad about vitamins and supplements, drugs used in athletic doping, his case of altitude sickness and more. Readers may occasionally seek less of Moalem's enthusiasm and ego, but he has a lot of solid information to convey and a stylish way of telling it.

Read More

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >