Compelling stories from the frontier of biology in “The Genome Generation”

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Re-posted from GMO Pundit blog

The Genome Generation, Elizabeth Finkel Melbourne University Press 2012 ISBN 978-0-522-85647-7

A new book was launched by Ed Byrne last night in suave surroundings at the Monash University Museum of Art. The book launch was enlivened with witty remarks from publisher Louise Adler and warmth and obvious admiration from high achiever husband Alan Finkel, amid great excitement and genuine enthusiasm in the audience for the appearance of a really up to the minute science story.   This is a story that has changed considerably, even as Elizabeth has been writing this book these last four years.

From the back cover:
The year 2001 marked more than just the beginning of Stanley Kubrick’s space odyssey, it marked the beginning of the genome era. That was the year scientists first read the 3 billion letters of DNA that make up the human genome. This was followed by a veritable Noah’s Ark of genomes—sponges and worms, dogs and cows, rice and wheat, chimps and elephants-180 creatures aboard so far.

So what have we learned from all this? How has it changed the way we practise
medicine, grow crops and breed livestock? What have we learned about evolution?

These are the questions science writer and molecular biologist Elizabeth Finkel asked herself four years ago. To find the answers she travelled the science frontier from Botswana to Boston, from Warracknabeal to Mexico and tracked down scientists working in the field. Their stories, told here, paint the picture of what it means to be part of the genome generation.
Elizabeth Finkel holds a PhD in biochemistry and spent ten years as a professional research scientist before becoming an award-winning journalist. She is a contributing editor to Cosmos magazine and also writes for the US magazine Science. Her numerous awards include a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for her book, Stem Cells: Controversy at the Frontiers of Science. In 2011 she was named the National Press Club’s Higher Education Journalist of the Year.

Elizabeth Finkel tells the evolving story of DNA
in an intriguing and accessible way.
Nobel Prize winner Peter Doherty
The Genome Generation is absolutely riveting. These tales from the frontier
are a ‘must read’ for everyone who wishes to understand our past—the logic of
evolution—or take a peep into our exciting future at the creation of ‘super plants’
through ‘digital agriculture’.
R.A. Mashelkar, CSIR Bhatnagar Fellow and India President,
Global Research Alliance
Is the genomic revolution an overhyped flop or are we on the edge of a life-changing revolution? This book stares down the myths and lays out the answers in engaging, compelling stories. This is an accomplished work of scientific literacy.
Jon Entine, Genetic Literacy Project, George Mason University

The Pundit’s considered comments about the Genome Generation will appear at this site as soon as he gets a chance to read the story. But the book is certainly handsomely produced, and Elizabeth Finkel is a wonderful science writer with a fabulous track record.

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David Tribe is an applied geneticist, teaching graduate/undergrad courses in food science, food safety, biotechnology and microbiology at the University of Melbourne.