The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race


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When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled The Double Helix on her bed. As she sped through the pages, she became enthralled by the intense drama behind the competition to discover the code of life. Even though her high school counselor told her girls didn’t become scientists, she decided she would.

Driven by a passion to understand how nature works and to turn discoveries into inventions, she would help to make what the book’s author, James Watson, told her was the most important biological advance since his co-discovery of the structure of DNA. She and her collaborators turned a curiosity ​of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions.

The development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer, and internet. Now we are entering a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code.

Should we use our new evolution-hacking powers to make us less susceptible to viruses? What a wonderful boon that would be! And what about preventing depression? Hmmm…Should we allow parents, if they can afford it, to enhance the height or muscles or IQ of their kids?

After helping to discover CRISPR, Doudna became a leader in wrestling with these moral issues and, with her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the Nobel Prize in 2020.

Title:The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race
Edition Language:English
Format Type:

    The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race Reviews

  • JanB

    3.5 starsUntil 2020, only five women, beginning with Marie Curie in 1911, had won a Nobel for chemistry. But 2020 was the year it went to two women, Jennifer Doudna and French colleague Emmanuelle Cha...

  • Lori

    I've taken it from five stars to four after mulling the book and having written the review, I realize I only want to give it three. This is a good book but too wide in scope. It's not a biography of J...

  • Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    I have loved all the three books that I was fortunate enough to read by Walter Issacson from Einstein, The Innovators, to Steve Job, this author was able to enthrall me with the main topics he chose ...

  • Nyamka

    CRISPR(Jennifer Doudna et al. šŸ¤©) + Walter Isaacson => AWESOMENESS!!It was good! Very good indeed. Title is a bit misleading. It is not a full biography of Jennifer Doudna alone. Rather, itā€™s a bi...

  • Lou

    The Code Breaker is a gripping account of how the pioneering scientist Jennifer Doudna, along with her colleagues and rivals, launched a revolution that will allow us to cure diseases, fend off viruse...

  • Farhana

    I had been literally dying to read this book since when Walter Isaacson posted about this online. Earlier he had authored da Vinci's biohgraphy in 2017. After finishing that book, I wondered whether I...

  • Truman32

    Walter Isaacsonā€™s The Code Breaker is full of some really smart people. Now while nobody in their right mind would ever describe me as smart (usually the descriptions tend to veer towards: well-mean...

  • Dr. Been

    "One fundamental aspect of science will remain the same. It has always been a collaboration across generations, from Darwin and Mendel to Watson and Crick and Franklin to Doudna and Charpentier."I sim...

  • Literary Redhead

    Isaacson is a biographerā€™s biographer and THE CODE BREAKER shows why his books totally absorb us. He has a way of revealing absorbing truth about his subjects ā€” in this case, biochemist and gene s...

  • Morgan Blackledge

    This is a thrilling account of the very recent history of CRISPR Cas9 gene editing technology.Of equal interest and import. The book sheds light on how sexism racism and xenophobia play out in contemp...