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Welcome to the Genome: A User's Guide to the Genetic Past, Present, and Future

ISBN: 978-0-471-45331-4
240 pages
September 2004
Welcome to the Genome: A User
A thrilling "user's guide" to the genomics era

Welcome to the genome, the miraculous blueprint of your DNA, coiled tight as a spring in the nucleus of each cell of your body. If unwound, the DNA from just one cell, while only a molecule in width, would stretch six feet in length! The information stored in its double helix structure - three billion bits worth - could fill 142 Manhattan phone books.

Yet far more amazing than these facts is the impact the study of genomics has had on so many areas of our lives. From the promise of personalized medicine and gene therapy to disputes over the safety of genetically modified (GM) foods, there is little doubt we are in the midst of the Genomic Revolution. Now how do we make sense of it all?

Welcome to the Genome takes you right into the thick of today's most cutting-edge science and its far-reaching implications. Authors Rob DeSalle, who curated the highly successful Genomics Revolution exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and Michael Yudell, Assistant Professor of Public Health at Drexel University, have written a book which clearly explains the ongoing saga of our attempts to understand the mystery of biology's Rosetta Stone and use its code to better our lives.

This reader-friendly book employs an understandable style and eye-popping full-color illustrations to provide real insights into the complex science involved. It delves into the past discoveries that led to the sequencing of the human genome; it presents the challenges facing today's scientists and society and culture in general; and it considers the future possibilities of the developing genome era. Social issues, particularly questions of ethics, receive special attention, covering an important area too often overshadowed by science and technology.

If the genome really is the book of life, then we have only just opened to the first of its many pages. Those who triumphantly claim DNA is destiny may have spoken too soon; it is far more likely today's discoveries will lead to insights yet to be imagined. A stirring and informative introduction to a scientific epic still unfolding, Welcome to the Genome is an essential guide for understanding - and participating in - the incredible explorations, discussions, and realizations of the Genomic Revolution.

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Foreword.

Acknowledgments.

Introduction: Welcome to the Genome.

PART I: DISCOVERY.

1. From Mendel to Molecules.

2. The Building Blocks of Gene Sequencing.

3. Sequencing the Genome.

PART II: INFORMATION.

4. Keeping the Genome Safe.

5. 99.9%.

6. The Tree of Life.

PART III: ADVANCEMENT.

7. The World To Come: Medicine.

8. The World To Come: Agriculture.

CONCLUSION.

9. Caution: Welcoming the Genome.

Appendix 1, An Experiment: Seeing Your Own DNA.

Glossary.

Endnotes.

Photo Credits.

Index.

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ROB DeSALLE received his B.A. in Biology from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Washington University. His postdoctoral studies were completed at the University of California at Berkeley and he held an assistant professorship at Yale University. He currently is a curator in the Division of Invertebrates and the co-Director of the Molecular Laboratories at the American Museum of Natural History. His research utilizes high throughput DNA sequencing approaches to examine the systematics of insects, conservation biology problems, and bacterial genomics.

MICHAEL YUDELL re-ceived his B.A. from Tufts University and completed graduate work at both the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. He has held the position of researcher in the Molecular Laboratories at the American Museum of Natural History, where his work focused on genome policy and ethics, and the position of health policy analyst at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. He is the editor, with Rob DeSalle, of The Genomic Revolution: Unveiling The Unity Of Life. Yudell is currently an Assistant Professor of Public Health at Drexel University.

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"...a welcome introduction to the broader aspects of how the genetic revolution will influence our lives." (American Journal of Medical Genetics, March 1, 2006)

"...the book fills a niche by providing a time-related commentary about the use of DNA and molecular genetics discoveries...a unique perspective seldom seen in other books about DNA." (Clinical Chemistry, February 2006)

"This is a great supplement to a textbook-based genetics unit, or it could be enrichment reading…Teachers who want a quick and easy update will appreciate it, too." (Journal of College Science Teaching, January/February 2006)

"...helpful introduction to one of the most compelling areas of modern biology." (The Quarterly Review of Biology, June 2005)

"...takes the reader on an adventure through the human genome...the implications will surely amaze and excite…" (The American Biology Teacher, May 2005)

"…a captivating story on genetics and genetics…an excellent resource…" (Annals of Biomedical Engineering, April 2005)

"Truly the 'user's guide' that it purports to be, this book provides in nine short, readable chapters a wealth of information..." (CHOICE, March 2005)

"…very well written so the concepts covered are accessible to all levels or readers." (E-STREAMS, March 2005)

"DeSalle and Yudell should be applauded for their ambition...a timely and readable book...[that] captures the excitement and potential peril of the Genome Revolution with aplomb." (Nature Genetics, February 2005)

"…engagingly written and illustrated in full-color...an essential guide for those who want to understand--and participate in--the accelerating promise of the genomic revolution." (Natural History, February 2005)

"…the first text we've seen to cover new discoveries in DNA research in a way that has the potential to capture a broad audience." (Electric Review, October/ November 2004)

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