The New York Times bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns with a riveting account of how Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a revolution that will enable us to cure diseases, fight viruses, and have healthier babies.
Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade when she returned home one day to find a paperback named The Double Helix on her bunk. She put it on the shelf, assuming it was one of her favorite detective stories. On a rainy Saturday, she read it and realized she was partially right.She became enthralled by the intense drama surrounding the competition to discover the code of life as she raced through the pages. Despite the fact that her high school advisor told her that girls did not become scientists, she wanted to do it anyway.
She would contribute to what the book’s author, James Watson, described as the most significant biological advance since his co-discovery of the structure of DNA. She was guided by a desire to learn how nature functions and to transform findings into innovations.She and her collaborators transformed a natural curiosity into an innovation that will change the human race: a simple method for editing DNA. CRISPR, as it’s known, launched in a brave new era of medical wonders and ethical dilemmas.
CRISPR’s advancement and the race to produce coronavirus vaccines will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution. The microchip, machine, and internet have all contributed to the digital era of the last half-century. We are now in the midst of a life-science revolution. Children interested in digital coding would be joined by others interested in genetic coding.
Will we use our current evolution-hacking abilities to make us more virus resistant? What a fantastic gift that would be! What is depression prevention? Hmmm… Should we encourage parents to improve their children’s height, muscle mass, or IQ if they can afford it?
Doudna became a leader in interacting with these moral questions after helping to discover CRISPR, and she shared the Nobel Prize in 2020 with her partner Emmanuelle Charpentier. Her story is a fascinating detective story involving the most profound natural wonders, from the roots of creation to our species’ future.