The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and Inheritance

The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and Inheritance

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by Nessa Carey
     
 

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Epigenetics can potentially revolutionize our understanding of the structure and behavior of biological life on Earth. It explains why mapping an organism's genetic code is not enough to determine how it develops or acts and shows how nurture combines with nature to engineer biological diversity. Surveying the twenty-year history of the field while also

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Overview

Epigenetics can potentially revolutionize our understanding of the structure and behavior of biological life on Earth. It explains why mapping an organism's genetic code is not enough to determine how it develops or acts and shows how nurture combines with nature to engineer biological diversity. Surveying the twenty-year history of the field while also highlighting its latest findings and innovations, this volume provides a readily understandable introduction to the foundations of epigenetics.

Nessa Carey, a leading epigenetics researcher, connects the field's arguments to such diverse phenomena as how ants and queen bees control their colonies; why tortoiseshell cats are always female; why some plants need cold weather before they can flower; and how our bodies age and develop disease. Reaching beyond biology, epigenetics now informs work on drug addiction, the long-term effects of famine, and the physical and psychological consequences of childhood trauma. Carey concludes with a discussion of the future directions for this research and its ability to improve human health and well-being.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
Carey's report on the rapidly developing state of epigenetics research may help nonscientists with public-policy, investment, and health-care decisions.

The Guardian - Peter Forbes
Anyone seriously interested in who we are and how we function should read this book.

Focus Magazine - Laurence Hurst
Nessa Carey takes us on a lively and up-to-date tour of what's known about epigenetic mechanisms and their implications for ageing and cancer.

Nature - Jonathan Weitzman
[Nessa Carey's] book combines an easy style with a textbook's thoroughness.... A bold attempt to bring epigenetics to a wide audience.

The Wall Street Journal - Carl Zimmer
An enlightening introduction to what scientists have learned in the past decade about [epigenetics].

New York Journal of Books - Graham Storrs
A must-read for every intelligent person who likes to know what is going on in modern science.

Times Literary Supplement - Jonathan Hodgkin
[Carey] provides an excellent and largely accurate account of a fascinating and fast-moving area of modern biology.

NSTA Recommends (National Science Teachers Association) - Rita Hoots
Written in an engaging manner using everyday metaphors to clarify complex concepts and utilizing well–defined diagrams, the author has produced an outstanding book with her wit and expertise.

The Boston Globe - Katharine Whittemore
[A] mercifully clear writer.

The Wall Street Journal
An enlightening introduction to what scientists have learned in the past decade about [epigenetics].The Wall Street Journal

— Carl Zimmer

New York Journal of Books
A must-read for every intelligent person who likes to know what is going on in modern science.New York Journal of Books

— Graham Storrs

Times Literary Supplement
she provides an excellent and largely accurate account of a fascinating and fast-moving area of modern biology.

— Jonathan Hodgkin

The Guardian
Anyone seriously interested in who we are and how we function should read this book.The GuardianThe Guardian

— Peter Forbes

Focus Magazine
Nessa Carey takes us on a lively and up-to-date tour of what's known about epigenetic mechanisms and their implications for ageing and cancer.

— Laurence Hurst, University of Bath

Nature
[Nessa Carey's] book combines an easy style with a textbook's thoroughness.... A bold attempt to bring epigenetics to a wide audience.

— Jonathan Weitzman

Library Journal
Why doesn't DNA completely determine our destiny? The answer may lie in the new biological frontier of epigenetics—the "changes to our genetic material that change the way genes are switched on or off, but which don't alter the genes themselves." Recent research has revealed how these changes occur—or, as former genetics professor and biotech/pharmaceutical industry veteran Carey explains: "We are finally starting to unravel the missing link between nature and nurture; how our environment talks to us and alters us, sometimes forever." She takes readers inside the genome, showing how epigenetic phenomena occur at the molecular level and what that means for the entire organism, be it worm, mouse, or human. Early chapters introduce key concepts in epigenetics, while subsequent chapters highlight major findings in epigenetic research and the role of epigenetic phenomena in cancer, mental illness, and aging. VERDICT Throughout, Carey's clear prose, well-chosen analogies, and simple, clear diagrams help the scientifically literate lay reader understand complicated concepts and processes. This book provides an excellent introduction to a fascinating new field that may revolutionize our understanding of human health and disease. Highly recommended.—Janet A. Crum, City of Hope, Duarte, CA
Kirkus Reviews
British virologist Carey tackles epigenetics with a passion to explain a rapidly developing and complex field. Early on the author reminds us that a surprising finding from human-genome research is that only two percent of the DNA in our cells codes for proteins used in the body. Though it was once fashionable to call the rest "junk" DNA, that's not the case today. Some of this DNA is transcribed as "non-coding RNA" with various functions, and some codes for proteins that determine which genes are expressed and which genes are silent in a given cell type--a liver or a skin cell, for example--ensuring that when these cells divide, the daughter cells will be the same type. Epigenetics is the study of those DNA controls, the key players for which are proteins that attach methyl groups to selected parts of DNA and proteins that add acetyl groups to histones (proteins associated with DNA on chromosomes). None of these controls is evident when sperm meets egg and undergoes initial cell divisions, which explains why "embryonic stem cells" are prized for their ability to develop into any cell type. As Carey surveys the field, she dwells on early development as a critical period when environmental influences can affect epigenetic controls with long-term effects. Thus women pregnant in the first trimester in the infamous Dutch famine in World War II gave birth to offspring at increased risk for obesity as adults. Similarly, Carey explores epigenetic changes dues to childhood abuse as contributing to stress-related illnesses in maturity. Epigenetic effects may also play a role in schizophrenia and chronic diseases, including cancer, and have already inspired new drugs to inhibit epigenetic controls. There is also fascinating research to explain, for example, why feeding honey-bee larvae royal jelly will turn them into queens and not sterile workers. Carey makes clear that debate and controversy attend this rapidly growing field, and she takes pains to explore alternate (non-epigenetic) explanations for various findings. An exhilarating exploration of an exciting new field, and a good gift for a bright biology student looking for a career choice.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231161176
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
10/01/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
210,036
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Nessa Carey is a visiting professor at Imperial College in London and currently works in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, where she has specialized in epigenetics for nearly a decade. She has strong relationships with leading epigenetics researchers, medical labs in Europe, and with some of the most prestigious institutions in the United States, including the Harvard Medical School, the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Wistar Institute.

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The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and Inheritance 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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