A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life

J. Craig Venter

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A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life

A Life Decoded My Genome My Life The triumphant true story of the man who achieved one of the greatest feats of our era the mapping of the human genome Growing up in California Craig Venter didn t appear to have much of a future An

  • Title: A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life
  • Author: J. Craig Venter
  • ISBN: 9780670063581
  • Page: 341
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The triumphant true story of the man who achieved one of the greatest feats of our era the mapping of the human genome Growing up in California, Craig Venter didn t appear to have much of a future An unremarkable student, he nearly flunked out of high school After being drafted into the army, he enlisted in the navy and went to Vietnam, where the life and death struggleThe triumphant true story of the man who achieved one of the greatest feats of our era the mapping of the human genome Growing up in California, Craig Venter didn t appear to have much of a future An unremarkable student, he nearly flunked out of high school After being drafted into the army, he enlisted in the navy and went to Vietnam, where the life and death struggles he encountered as a medic piqued his interest in science and medicine After pursuing his advanced degrees, Venter quickly established himself as a brilliant and outspoken scientist In 1984 he joined the National Institutes of Health, where he introduced novel techniques for rapid gene discovery, and left in 1991 to form his own nonprofit genomics research center, where he sequenced the first genome in history in 1995 In 1998 he announced that he would successfully sequence the human genome years earlier, and for far less money, than the government sponsored Human Genome Project would a prediction he kept in 2001 A Life Decoded is the triumphant story of one of the most fascinating and controversial figures in science today In his riveting and inspiring account Venter tells of the unparalleled drama of the quest for the human genome, a tale that involves as much politics personal and political as science He also reveals how he went on to be the first to read and interpret his own genome and what it will mean for all of us to do the same He describes his recent sailing expedition to sequence microbial life in the ocean, as well as his groundbreaking attempt to create synthetic life Here is one of the key scientific chronicles of our lifetime, as told by the man who beat the odds to make it happen.

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      341 J. Craig Venter
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      Published :2018-06-23T04:30:51+00:00

    One thought on “A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life

    1. Charlene on said:

      What can I say about this book? It was a little bit like reading Holly Madison's book Down the Rabbit Hole. Instead of the Playboy mansion it was the world of science. Instead of vicious attacks on Hugh Hefner's character, Venter attacked the characters of just about anyone who pissed him off, stood in his way, or insulted him in any way during his long and fruitful career. Like Holly Madison, Venter engaged in very little self reflection of his own behavior while, at the same time, being keenly [...]

    2. Eric Bittner on said:

      A really fascinating book. Lots of insight into the politics and egos behind the sequencing of the human genome. If anyone thinks scientists do what they do just for the joy of discovery, this book will set them straight. While Venter displays no shortage of ego on his own part, the levels that his rivals stooped to is at times astonishing. In some ways the world of "big biology" is even more competitive than the business world. Being the first to achieve something is the only thing that matters [...]

    3. Converse on said:

      Venter led one of the efforts to sequence the human genome. I was surprised to learn that his interest in biology and medicine grew out of his experiences as a Navy corpsman in a hospital in Vientman. His original scientific interests in the 1970s. focused on the biochemistry of adrenaline; his move into genetics was an outgrowth of this interest. The narrative has the most detail in covering his Vietnam experiences, and then his experiences in competing with government-funded human genome proje [...]

    4. Sueper on said:

      I found this book to be a very interesting read while much of the world is questioning the value of cooperation vs competition, with books like Atlas Shrugged and my personal favorite, Where Good Ideas Come From. Venter's story helps me to come to terms with my own struggle to find a balance between the necessity of cooperation and competition in order to catalyze innovation in today's world. I also enjoyed the personal connections I had to his life, whether it was the references to Bethesda, Po [...]

    5. Michelle on said:

      Wow. Alternate titles he could have used: Vendetta: Righting All Those Wrongs. Venter used this book to get back at anyone who ever did anything wrong to him or doubted him or didn't support him or undercut him or or or. Then it becomes Toot Toot!: Blowing My Own Horn, because when he isn't getting back at anyone he's letting us know what a superior individual he is, ain't he grand! Even his genome is special. What was left of the book was dry science. Yes, this is an autobiography, he's writing [...]

    6. Books Ring Mah Bell on said:

      This man is possibly the most self absorbed, arrogant SOB EVER. Then again, if I were half as brilliant, maybe I'd be a jerk too. Only 50 pages in - hope to get into science stuff soon. One thing I do like so far that "Dr. I massaged their heart in my hands! I swim like a Mutha! I get laid a ton!" does is offer little boxes of genome info - why, for example he can swim so well as his gene for endurance does not have a common mutation that makes the rest of us cramp up and want to die. Okay I fin [...]

    7. James Mize on said:

      Brash, opinionated, and breathtaking in its scope and pace, as many have described the man himself. Well-written for the lay reader. Only once did I feel that the science got too dense for me to appreciate the drama of the story as it was unfolding. Pages 95-100 or so hurt my head, but after surviving that I was able to delude myself into thinking I was smart enough about genomics to be able to hang on for the rest of the ride.

    8. Marc Perry on said:

      Spoiler Alert: " It's all about me!" (to paraphrase the author)

    9. Michelle on said:

      (3.5 stars) This is an autobiography of J. Craig Venter and his quest to decode the human genome. While it provides a fascinating perspective into some of the politics and undercurrents that affected the process, Venter’s own ego and biases clearly shine through. He clearly is a driven and determined man, but one who will take what he wants without letting anyone stand in his way. He reminds me of another titan of industry, Larry Ellison, not only for the attitude but also for their shared pas [...]

    10. Alex on said:

      Format: Hard-coverThis book shows that it pays to be bold and take risks in academia, just as in business. A life decoded was a great story about an adventurous life, was educational in terms of what the science actually did, and provided key insights on how politics in academia operate.Fantastic book.I also really enjoyed the quotes at the start of each chapter, usually from Darwin.Some memorable quotes all throughout the book:p125: "In science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world [...]

    11. Peter Tillman on said:

      I enjoyed it, learned stuff. Interesting life, large ego. 3.5 stars

    12. Gunnar Nelson on said:

      He was arrogant, and I was skeptical at claims he made. However, there was substance.

    13. Geetanjali on said:

      Famous physicist Erwin Schrödinger once said ” life is stable information written on unique molecules such that this information can be exactly copied.” Man has been looking for ways to decode this information.Sound reasoning and judgment, along with the ability to manipulate with abstractions, concepts, and ideas, are hallmarks of an entrepreneur. These elements are also found in the general scientific population. When intelligence and business acumen are applied to the development of new [...]

    14. Sheffy on said:

      Craig Venter sequenced the human genome--not just any human genome--his own human genome. OK, he built a team, and they sequenced parts of ~5 genomes, but his seemed to be the dominant one--and that was supposed to be a secret… In the same say that Socrates’ Apology was a defense of his actions against his accusers, Venter’s autobiography explains why he thinks he’s been unfairly maligned. And you know what, he just about wins me over--he is clearly a genius. And a narcisist. He describe [...]

    15. Razvan Mathias on said:

      I enjoyed Venter's colorful biography, which illustrated the challenges of scaling up and moving biological research our to private industry. Venter did a good job of conveying the concerns around scientific credit, open data sharing, intellectual property wrangling, public/private funding, deal-making, and return on investment. On these priorities and dimensions, I would have appreciated more on Venter’s own thought framework-- how **should** one think about balancing these concerns and navig [...]

    16. Wise_owl on said:

      Autobiography is a fraught field. The titular example, Cellini, set a base-line of arrogance, self-contradiction and pedantry that is seldom matched. Likewise, the field of science writing is also fraught. Too much technical information you loose a general audience. Too little and your work becomes meaningless or populist in the bad sense of the word. A Life Decoded falls prey to elements of both, while remaining an engaging read. J. Craig Venter is a controversial figure in biology, and his boo [...]

    17. Nick Olson on said:

      This book probably would have gotten 4 or 5 stars from anyone with the slightest science background. Venter surprised me by doing a good job of mixing his life story in with the details of his science, but there were still some long passages with a little too much detail about the methods of sequencing DNA to hold my interest. What I did find fascinating was the political game that he was forced to play in and the way he described it. I'm actually interested in reading more books about scientifi [...]

    18. Greg on said:

      You don't have to have a genetics or genomics background to get into this books, but perhaps a political science background would be more useful. Craig Venter has certainly led an interesting life, but this shows again what a role personal politics plays in big science. Ventner leaves no hatchet unburied in describing his political rivals. While he does an adequate job of describing gene sequencing for the novice, the more important work of figure out the purpose for each gene was a bit of a mys [...]

    19. Takim Williams on said:

      This was a well-written autobiography of a fascinating man, a sailing, surfing Vietnam War medic who despite a poor high school academic record became a successful biochemist and then the leader of the historical Human Genome Project. His scientific career seemed to be a frustrating struggle against politics, and his ambition, perseverance and ingenuity certainly triumphed in the end. Venter's life makes a good story, with the perfect blend of romance, science and adventure. And after going over [...]

    20. Aditi on said:

      I only got through half of this due to time constraints, but its a great book. His life is much more interesting than I thought it was going to be, but towards the middle, the story runs into a bit of a thick patch - it becomes too scientific and business-like, and the magic of the early narrative (his ability to use his experiences and weave them into a picture of self-discovery and life lessons runs out around this time coincidentally, this is also the part that I stopped reading).He's had an [...]

    21. Marty Ross on said:

      I found this a great read. As a microbiologist by training, I really liked the middle part when they began constructing the genomes of certain viruses and bacteria for the first time in history. In a fell swoop, life was a little better understood, and evolution was seen in a whole new light. What's funny is that I was in college when the major breakthroughs were happening, but I didn't know enough tp really appreciate it. As for the man himself, he has a reputation as an insufferable a-hole, bu [...]

    22. Steve Hadden on said:

      An interesting topic, and a surprising account of the politics of scientific advancement.I wanted to learn more about the race to sequence the entire human genome from one of the people that participated. This was a very interesting read, covering the rapid progress to map out all the genes in the human body. I was surprised by the stories of the politics involved within the scientific community and how they act to slow the rate of scientific discovery, especially on such an important effort.The [...]

    23. Jonathan on said:

      Craig Venter is the most important man in science of the 21st century. This is his story. That is enough to make this a good read, but, in addition, this man is fascinating (although, he is a very dry writer). If you like science or want to be in-the-know, this is the book for you. If you JUST want to be entertained, don't bother it is so packed with biological science that I have trouble reading it, and I UNDERSTAND what he is talking about I can only imagine how this book would read for the [...]

    24. Ken Roebuck on said:

      After reading this fascinating autobiography of a ruthless perspicacious scientist made me want to have my own genome sequenced to discover my genetic destiny. The most interesting chapters detail the behind the scenes intrigue and political maneuverings encompassing the competing interests of the bureaucratic government and the hubristic private sector for the high stakes glory of big science. Although technical in parts overall it was a facile and enjoyable read particularly with my scientific [...]

    25. Tera on said:

      If only we truly valued these creative, resourceful, driven people, we would support all their needs and let them have the freedom to continue make remarkable discoveries. Craig Venter describes the process how the human genome was mapped, all the learning experiences, trials and errors, the beauracracy, the impedements, competition, envy, and beliefs. You’ll be surprised and sometimes ashamed at how close Craig’s goal was almost ruined by negativity. Even though through the book Craig might [...]

    26. Aaron on said:

      This a very interesting look into research. It shows that is is generally not the pursuit of knowledge that drives such things, but the general business model. I myself am a recent graduate in Microbiology, and hope to conduct my own research one day. However, this book also talks about what drove Venter to his current place in life, from Vietnam to political bickering and runaround concerning his research.I would recommend this book to anyone, even if they are not in a scientific field.

    27. Kylie on said:

      4 years. 4 years it took me to finish this. Not because it wasn't good it's just that I got distracted by other books along the way. I also made a really big dent in it when I was taking science courses at university but lost interest when I changed fields.I don't read many memoirs but this is possibly my favourite so far. I might just be biased because of the SCIENCE though. Venter is a good writer and he does a good job of keeping the science exciting and explaining the behind the scenes madne [...]

    28. Joe on said:

      Interesting book, an autobiography of a good scientist who was inadequate in highschool but who eventually made it to the top of the hierarchy in the scientific community. I liked the life experience in the first few chapters but after that the author goes into much detail about the in-fighting within the scientific community and how the birth of the genomics field, and the details of deals between scientists and companies which got a little boring so far.But I definitely recommend this book for [...]

    29. Marcos Moret on said:

      The autobiography of the clever chap who won the race to decode the human genome. At times it's pretty hard-going as he really gets into the detail of the politics between the competing bodies in the race, and some of the science becomes a bit difficult to follow, leaving the storytelling as a bit of an afterthought. Still worth a read - just be ready to skip good-sized chunks every now and again.

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