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The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine [Kindle Edition]

Francis S. Collins

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“His groundbreaking work has changed the very ways we consider our health and examine disease.” (President Barack Obama)

“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)

“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)

“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)


"His groundbreaking work has changed the very ways we consider our health and examine disease.” —Barack Obama

From Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institute of Health, 2007 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and 15-year head of the Human Genome Project, comes one of the most important medical books of the year: The Language of Life. With accessible, insightful prose, Dr. Collins describes the medical, scientific, and genetic revolution that is currently unlocking the secrets of “personalized medicine,” and offers practical advice on how to utilize these discoveries for you and your family’s current and future health and well-being. In the words of Dr. Jerome Groopman (How Doctors Think), The Language of Life “sets out hope without hype, and will enrich the mind and uplift the heart.”


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 1127 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 371 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: 0061733180
  • Verlag: HarperCollins e-books; Auflage: 1 (16. Dezember 2009)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B003100UQU
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Aktiviert
  • Erweiterte Schriftfunktion: Nicht aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #375.912 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.6 von 5 Sternen  43 Rezensionen
32 von 33 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen This Book Could Save Your Life 14. März 2010
Von R. Schultz - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This book provides both academic and practical information about the latest developments in DNA research. Some of the practical advice could help you reach educated decisions about what medical treatments to pursue. It's likely that even many doctors aren't yet aware of certain kinds of DNA tests that can be crucial indicators about which treatments might be effective and which ones might actually be lethal.

For example, any woman contemplating having a prophylactic mastectomy might want to read this book first to learn about how new BRCA tests could more accurately predict her chances of eventually getting many forms of cancer. DNA tests available now can help a woman who has already been diagnosed with cancer determine whether certain forms of chemotherapy would help her, or whether they would just be needlessly, and perhaps fatally, debilitating.

There is also a DNA test that would alert doctors that certain people might have a special sensitivity to coumadin, a drug widely used as a blood thinner. Many medical centers don't perform this test before coumadin is prescribed, and excessive bleeding and even lethal hemorrhaging can be the result.

A small percentage of people have a toxic reaction to statins, the drugs now commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol. A DNA test now available could identify those people for whom the drugs might pose dangerous problems.

But DNA analysis doesn't have to be limited to the human's normal genome. By analyzing the genome of the cancer cells themselves, doctors can now refine their treatments.

Collins covers a variety of such topics that it would really benefit any urgent consumers of medical care to educate themselves about before proceeding with treatment. However, he also gives advice about how the average person can make use of the latest developments in DNA research.

In the field of crime detection, it might soon be possible, not only to match a perpetrator's DNA with a suspect's DNA, as we commonly see on CSI series. It might also be possible to describe what a perpetrator looks like from their DNA. That is, DNA analysis of crime scene DNA might lead the police to a blue-eyed, red-headed, freckled male who is 5'10" tall. This sort of analysis is controversial though and might be restricted. On the other hand, the DNA research going on now into stem cells might enable doctors to proceed without violating any ethical principles.

Collins goes on to summarize the results you can expect to get from the three leading on-line companies offering personal DNA analyses after you send them a saliva swab. Collins includes checklists in the book, tallying up which disease susceptibilities, which pharmaceutical effects, and which other life trajectory likelihoods, each Company can reasonably predict for you. In addition, he tells the extent to which these DNA analyses can currently help you trace your ancestral roots. (Right now, DNA yields only very general results along these lines.)

However DNA research is proceeding at a gallop, and predictions that can only be made in the form of vague generalizations today, might be much more pinpointing tomorrow. So again, women contemplating prophylactic mastectomies because current BRCA tests can't make very accurate predictions about their probability of developing breast cancer - might want to consider holding off a little after reading this book.

The author of this book was himself on the cutting edge of DNA research, leading one of the teams racing to sequence the entire human genome. He has continued to be in the forefront of DNA investigations, so most of the information here comes across as being authoritative and reliable. However, there are a few paragraphs that might strike the reader as being lapses from this standard.

For example, Collins entertains the idea that some (presumably male) homosexuality might be a matter of choice or will rather than innate orientation. He also rather astonishingly pronounces that 70% of one's adult weight is dictated by one's genes. Well, that would be nice to believe, but I don't think a lot of the research backs him up on that, or at least such an assured percentage would not be applicable to a majority of us.

On the whole though, this book provides very readable insights into what those at the forefront of DNA research are discovering, and how such studies already are and soon will be having major effects on all our lives.
22 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Collins has written a science book on DNA for the masses 1. Juni 2010
Von And Then Some Publishing LLC - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition
The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine
Book Review by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

Before I was a speech-communication major in college--and since I was in the ninth grade in junior-high-school, I might add--I wanted to be a doctor. Most of my courses in high school and early college were all science courses. My interest in science did not wear off, and when I graduated from the University of Michigan, I had to make general science a minor since I had had so many courses in the area, and my graduation would have been delayed for at least a year if I had to pick up a new minor. All this is explanation for my love of science and, thus, of this book.

Collins has written a science book on DNA for the masses, and I absorbed the information like a sponge in water. It is a terrific read not just for Collins' unbelievable knowledge, the revealing and interesting examples cited, the comfortable, readable, and friendly writing style, or even the specific detail he offers: "The best-understood genes are those that code for protein. This process involves first making an RNA copy of the DNA; that RNA is then transported to the ribosome `protein factories' in the cytoplasm, where the letters of the RNA code are translated into the amino acids used by proteins....This translation is carried out using a triplet code word; for example, AAA in the RNA codes for the amino acid lysine, and AGA codes for arginine" (p. 7). Most of the language is not of this style and not nearly as complex.

But, getting back to my point about why the book is a terrific read. The book is a terrific read because of how it relates to us all. Collins writes: "The consequence of all this progress is that a new science has appeared at the very center of biology and medicine: you could call it DNA cryptography. We've intercepted a highly elaborate message of critical importance for the future of the human species" (p. 13). To drive this point home for every reader, Collins says, "Family health history turns out to be the strongest of all currently measurable risk factors for many common conditions, incorporating as it does information about both heredity and shared environment" (p. 14).

The book is as reader-friendly as a science book can be. At the end of nine of his ten chapters, Collins has included a box entitled, "What you can do now to join the personalized medicine revolution," which offers specific methods for readers to take responsibility for their lives. If you think you may have trouble with some of the language, there is an eight-page glossary to assist you. Also, numerous figures help in explaining concepts.

This is a great book written by the Director of the National Institutes of Health who spent fifteen years as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institute of Health. Collins was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007, and the National Medal of Science in 2009. The book is copyrighted 2010.
23 von 27 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Good, but not great ... 19. Februar 2010
Von Wayne Robinson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
I have just finished reading "the Language of Life". I enjoyed reading it. It was much better than I was expecting. The coverage of genetics was at such a level that it was easy to understand (perhaps too easy?). It's difficult not to catch Francis Collins' optimism and enthusiasm as to the promise of mapping the human genome, and being able to work out which genes are really important in producing malignant tumours, and hence which genes are promising targets for treatment strategies. Previously, because mapping the genome was so difficult and expensive, it was difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish the important genes in tumours, from unimportant mutations resulting from increased cell division or loss of DNA repair genes.

I only have a few quibbles. I don't think it is useful to define mutations as being always harmful, everything else just being variants. Mutations can be harmful, beneficial and neutral (the usual situation).

Secondly, I didn't like the end of each chapter, where he has a "What you can do now to join ... revolution?" Generally, it's a website providing information. The chapter on ageing has a beauty of a web address for [...] ... with a long sequence of letters, numbers and symbols, which navigates to I don't know where. I found the tool easily just navigating from the homepage (the address was much shorter, I wonder if Francis Collins gave the address for his results?).

Thirdly, I think that missing out on the mitochondrial story with regard to ageing, is missing the most important cause of ageing.
Nick Lane's book "Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life" is a good book for the discussion of this.
Basically, most of the genes coding for mitochondria have been moved to the nucleus, except for 13 very important genes, which are still in the mitochondria (mitochondria were originally bacteria which entered into a symbiotic relationship with a species of Archaea to produce the first eukaryotic cell). In the mitochondria, these 13 genes are 20 times more likely to undergo mutation than those in the nucleus, resulting in the mitochondria becoming less and less efficient in producing energy, until the cell dies. Looking at buccal epithelial cells (even if the mitochondria are examined) isn't going to tell what is happening in heart muscle fibres or brain cells.
This is apparently the way calorie restriction increases lifespan in mammals (and presumably also us, although the degree of calorie restriction is enough to make your life miserable enough that it just seems longer), by reducing the rate of mutations in mitochondria.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Genome revolution 15. Mai 2012
Von Dr. P. R. Lewis - Veröffentlicht auf
We are living through revolutionary times for decoding our genome: the methods of identifying the DNA sequences in our chromosomes have improved out of all recognition , so exposing many defects along the chains. Dr Collins is one of the best placed authors to chart the revolution since he himself helped identify the critical defects causing cystic fibrosis. There are now many such Mendelian diseases now identified with specific DNA defects, allowing precise medical intervention for those affected. Drugs can be targeted to alleviate those conditions, allowing patients to live longer and more rewarding lives despite their problems. It is inevitable that the book should include details of the way the DNA is constructed and interpreted by body mechanisms, with vey helpful diagrams of the molecular changes which occur during cell growth. This work is by far the best on the market, and from an expert in the field, which makes it doubly interesting for his insight into the future of medicine. The work examines genetic counselling, but is perhaps a little short on the rapidly growing field of ageing research, and for the genes which control how cells age and die. My own father is aged nearly 109 and is compos mentis, although his movement is restricted. His DNA (and mine) are in the process of analysed, but initial papers in this area indicate the complexity of the subject. It is obvious that the problem has been barely touched, but with the speed-up of DNA analysis, we can look forward to an interesting period of intensive research. We can expect more from this distinguished author!
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen "The Language of Life" by Dr. Francis Collins 26. April 2011
Von Carol J. Reese - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Dr. Francis Collins is a genius in the field of Science. He is also a dedicated Christain.
He headed the NIH project in about 2002, when they named to human genomes.
His knowledge of DNA and biology, and science in general, has enriched his Christian faith.
He does a great job of bringing faith and science together.
He explains that the radicals in each field, often do not "hear" the information from the other.
IF God is creator of everything; "Truth", by any label is still "Truth".
Any contradiction between science and faith is in the narrow preceptions of man.
I have since read, "The Language of DNA" and the "The Language of Science and Faith", also by Collins.
For those that are open to "seeing" how faith and science compliment one another, these books are a must.
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