384 pages, 8 pages illustrations
Drawing the Map of Life takes the story of the Human Genome Project from its origins, through the race to its accomplishment, and on to today's vast efforts to exploit the complete, ordered sequence of the 3 billion subunits of DNA, the molecule of heredity. It is the first account to deal in depth and balance with the intellectual roots of the project, the motivations that drove it, and the hype that often masked genuine triumphs.
McElheny profiles key people, such as David Botstein, Eric Lander, Francis Collins, Watson, Michael Hunkapiller and Craig Venter. He also shows that, besides being a major event in the history of science, one that is revolutionising medicine, the Human Genome Project is a striking example of how new techniques and instruments (such as restriction enzymes and sequencing methods), often arriving first, shape the type of questions scientists then ask.
"A stirring explanation of why the Human Genome Project – which mapped our DNA – matters."
"As...Victor McElheny tells it in his racy and well-documented account, practical science can be as grubbily political and ego-driven as anything that goes on in the boardroom of international conglomerates. This is a very modern story and, ultimately, curiously heart-warming."
- Sunday Times
"Comprehensive. Mr. McElheny knows almost everyone involved and describes their actions and motives fairly. This is no mean feat given the sizes of some of the egos involved, and the clashes between them."
- The Economist
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Victor McElheny is a distinguished science journalist who has covered the revolution in molecular biology for the New York Times, Boston Globe, and Science for nearly three decades. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he ran the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts