Recent and dramatic breakthroughs in our understanding of the body will profoundly change the experience of being human in the coming century. Already they are opening up boundary-breaking possibilities for intervention at every level, from our brains and genes to our microbiomes and immune systems. These will confer unprecedented powers over health, childhood development, our cognitive and physical abilities, and affect every aspect of how we live our lives and think about ourselves. As the secrets of our bodies are revealed, we all will face previously unthinkable choices with consequences we have yet to understand.
Imagine knowing years in advance the precise likelihood of developing specific cancers, thanks to a bespoke understanding of every cell in your body; following a diet and health regime tailored to your microbiome; continuous monitoring of your body's workings and well-being; taking drugs that improve your cognition and help to acquire new skills; manipulating the genes of your unborn children to eliminate disease or even enhance their capabilities.
Written by an award-winning scientist at the forefront of this work, The Secret Body shows how these radical and disconcerting possibilities have been made real thanks to the ingenious technologies and decades-long collaborations of scientists worldwide. A gripping drama of discovery and a landmark account of this dawning revolution, it presents a vision of the human body of dizzying complexity, wonder and possibility.
Daniel M. Davis is Professor of Immunology at the University of Manchester and author of two previous books: The Beautiful Cure, shortlisted for the 2018 Royal Society Science Book Prize and a book of the year in The Times, Telegraph and New Scientist, and The Compatibility Gene, longlisted for the 2014 Royal Society Science Book Prize and shortlisted for the Society of Biology Book Prize. His research, using super-resolution microscopy to study the immune system, was listed in Discover magazine as one of the top 100 breakthroughs of the year. He is also the author of over 140 academic papers, collectively cited over 13,000 times, including articles in Nature, Science and Scientific American.
"A big-picture forecast of how medicine stands on the threshold of a revolution that will radically change all of our lives [...] Davis is a polar opposite of the typecast propeller-hatted futurologist. He is beguilingly informal and affably humorous"
– The Times
"A perfect blend of cutting-edge science and compelling storytelling. Daniel Davis has a rare knack for making complex science comprehensible and thrilling"
– Bill Bryson
"An extraordinary journey that reveals the magnificence, intricacy and beauty of the human body, fundamentally changing the way we see ourselves. Masterful"
– Alice Roberts
"A beautifully rendered picture of the startling new discoveries in human biology which are radically altering our understanding of how we function and what our future holds"
– Brian Cox
"What we now know about the human body would seem magical to people just a hundred years ago. Davis takes us on a grand voyage to see how we reached our current state of understanding, along the way interweaving the accounts of amazing discoveries with the very human stories of the many scientists who made them possible. It often reads like a detective story and anyone interested in biology will learn much from this enjoyable book"
– Venki Ramakrishnan, Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry and author of Gene Machine
"Reading The Secret Body is like spending time with an eloquent, well-connected and entertaining enthusiast who has intimate knowledge of the secret worlds that lie within all of us"
– Roger Highfield