The Language of Life: Book summary and reviews of The Language of Life by Francis S. Collins

The Language of Life

DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine

by Francis S. Collins

The Language of Life by Francis S. Collins X
The Language of Life by Francis S. Collins
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Book Summary

A scientific and medical revolution has crept up on us, based on study after study, from hundreds of laboratories around the world. It is no longer just a theoretical shift: every one of us will be touched by it, and many of us already have been. The meaning of disease, our understanding of the human body, and crucial decisions about what we all need to know and what choices we make about our health are at stake. Welcome to the new world of personalized medicine.

Twenty-one million Americans are affected by 6,000 so-called rare and orphan diseases, many of which are primarily attributable to misspelled genes. And virtually all diseases have a significant hereditary component. There have been many stories in the media about women who are testing to see if they have a mutation that leads to breast cancer, or family members who are strongly at risk for heart disease or Huntington's disease. Yet the revolution is much more fundamental than this: diabetes, heart disease, the common cancers, mental illness, asthma, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, and more—all of these diseases are having their secrets unlocked. Now, with a simple home test, costing a few hundred dollars, you can learn the secrets of your own DNA.

Francis Collins has been at the forefront of this revolution. He was, for fifteen years, the head of the international Human Genome Project, and he now serves as the Director of the National Institutes of Health. He knows, better than anyone, how widespread are the misperceptions about human genetics. Just in the past decade, most of what you think you know about DNA has been overturned. Much of the advice given routinely by health care providers is ill informed, so you need to educate yourself about this rapidly moving area of medicine. You are guaranteed to face some surprises, and some difficult choices about personal knowledge, treatment, and family risk.

Yet this book is overwhelmingly hopeful and inspiring, offering helpful advice in every chapter. Nearly every day, diseases that were barely understood, or completely misunderstood, are being redefined. Families that faced common problems, without hope, are now discovering a new world of understanding, treatment, and prevention. You owe it to yourself to learn about your DNA: how it works, what it reveals, and the benefits and limits of this new knowledge.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. By using case studies throughout, he does a superb job of humanizing a complex scientific and medical subject." - Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week

"Starred Review. Highly recommended for lay readers interested in their health and health-care workers who need to learn about personalized medicine." - Library Journal

"He is a first-rate, entertaining expositor, taking the reader through Genetics 101 and providing case studies about genetic medicine in relation to common cancers, aging, the brain, infections and immunity. .... Even if readers aren't ready to swab their cheeks today, they will learn a lot about the current state of DNA science and its potential." - Kirkus Reviews

"The future of customized medicine is in your DNA; don't wait until you are sick to learn why." - Dr. Mehmet Oz, author of You: The Owner's Manual

"His groundbreaking work has changed the very ways we consider our health and examine disease." - President Barak Obama

"Man's knowledge of man is undergoing the greatest revolution since Leonardo, and Francis Collins is at the leading edge of it. I am a better doctor today because Dr. Collins was my genetics professor in medical school, and now, the world gets to benefit from his wisdom by reading The Language of Life." - Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Neurosurgeon at Emory University and Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN

"With fluid prose and compelling narratives, Francis Collins makes modern medical science vivid and accessible. This book sets out hope without hype, and will enrich the mind and uplift the heart." - Jerome Groopman, M.D., Recanati Professor, Harvard Medical School, Author of How Doctors Think

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