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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Bruce A. Fenderson, PhD (Thomas Jefferson University)
Description: This is an exciting, comprehensive guide to the molecular and biochemical mechanisms that constitute life on earth. The wealth of information in this new fifth edition reflects a rapidly advancing field with close ties to evolutionary biology. The book is organized into five major sections such as basic genetic mechanisms and internal organization of the cell. Subjects range from membrane structure to the cell cycle. Chapters addressing cell social behavior (from sexual reproduction to development) are included along with illustrations and movies on a multimedia DVD-ROM.
Purpose: According to the authors, the purpose is "to give readers a conceptual framework for the mass of information that we now have about cells." Although the book is filled with facts, the authors hope that students will "learn how to put the facts to use - to reason, to predict, and to control the behavior of living systems."
Audience: The book is written for advanced undergraduates and graduate students taking a year-long course in cell biology. Faculty will appreciate access to electronic versions of the textbook figures and tables provided on the ancillary DVD. It will be appreciated by all students in the life sciences including those specializing in biophysics and bioengineering. The authors are outstanding investigators with traditions of excellence in teaching and research.
Features: This full color book expertly organizes our current understanding of cell biology and provides readers with insights into research methods. Every page is filled with colorful illustrations and tables that stimulate the reader's imagination. Side topics that fill an entire page are identified as panels. These color-coded pages are used to elucidate complex topics such as chemical formulas, research methods, or experimental results. The emphasis on research helps draw readers into the historical process of discovery. Boldface type identifies key words that are defined in the glossary at the end of the book. Each chapter includes a short list of self-assessment problems that are abstracted from a companion problems book (you have to buy the companion book to see the answers). Primary references are included to encourage further reading and scholarship. The authors frequently draw readers' attention to evolutionary principles and explore new concepts. For example, the first chapter includes a figure that highlights the times of divergence of different vertebrates. Similarly, the chapter on how cells read the genome includes a major section on the RNA world and origin of life. An excellent feature of this book is that the "H2 headers" are declarative statements (e.g. "All cells store their hereditary information in the same linear chemical code (DNA)."). Perusing these statements on the table of contents page provides an introduction to key concepts in cell biology. The DVD includes chapters on cells in their social context (from fertilization to adaptive immunity), as well as movies and electronic files of the illustrations. Access codes for these exciting learning resources are scattered throughout the book.
Assessment: This is an outstanding educational resource that will capture the attention of a wide range of students and faculty in the biomedical and life sciences. The authors organize our current understanding of cell biology, and hand this impressive body of knowledge onto the next generation of scholars. The fast pace of research in this field is clearly evident. Indeed, the idea that cells even exist and that they constitute the basic unit of life was proposed only 170 years ago! Today, we are teasing apart key signaling networks and learning how to redirect cellular differentiation. This fifth edition contains new information on comparative genomics, stem cell biology, and many other topics ranging from apoptosis to cancer. This is an outstanding core title in cell biology, expertly written and carefully edited. Readers are in for an inspiring and exciting journey.