Read The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine by Francis S. Collins Online


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

Title : The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780061733178
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine Reviews

  • Jeremy
    2018-11-16 07:13

    (forthcoming review in the World Medical and Health Policy)Dr. Francis Collins is one of the most distinguished scientists of his generation, not just in America but around the world. His work in genetics stands at the pinnacle of medical science, and his role in the Human Genome Project as administrator and researcher will be long remembered.One anticipates with great interest reading his thoughts on how DNA will revolutionize medicine.One would be largely disappointed.The Language of Life, Collins’ attempt to provide a guide to this revolution for the layman, isn’t a bad book. It’s just not a very exciting or interesting or well-organized one.Worse, it shows the impact of editing for mass marketing in two lamentable respects. First, and most importantly, the book has been “Oprahfied.” It’s almost painful to read as the distinguished director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) ends each chapter with commonplace advice on exercising more, how to learn more about genetic racial identity on the web, and how to stop smoking. “(q)uitting is hard. But help is available!” gushes Collins.While almost all of Collins’ advice is correct and would improve our health, much of it is only tangentially related to the deeper questions of genetic medicine.Second, Collins puts much of the basic science about genetics in a short appendix, as if his readers would not be able to handle it in the text itself.The largest problem, though, is that Collins is not a particularly gifted writer. In his hands, the complex remains quite complex, and lacks poetry or beauty. In the hands of a great science writer, like James Gleick, impossibly dense topics like quantum physics come alive. Here, even potentially moving stories about individuals wrestling with genetic diseases often fall flat.The writing is sometimes clunky, and never inspired. “Debates…rage” on page 86, and also on page 87.The book moves from topic to topic without much connection or narrative. It also shows sign of hasty construction, as on page 85, when the exact procedures used by the major direct-to-consumer DNA analysis companies are outlined for a second time. With all these defects, it should be noted that the book rewards the persistent reader with a multitude of insights. The majesty and power of DNA in shaping our medical destinies is conveyed, and readers will be struck again and again that one or two changes among 3 billion base pairs of DNA in our genome can result in stunning alterations to our lives.For medical professionals around the world, this book serves as a useful compendium of the state of genetic medicine, 2010. It covers topics such as pharmacogenomics (the study of how our specific genetic variations make any given medicine more or less effective, or even toxic), genetic therapy, ethical dilemmas in genetics, and genetic testing, and covers them well.Collins is deeply ambivalent, to say the least, about the intersection of corporate power and genetic research. We see it manifest itself most personally in near total avoidance of Craig Venter, except to describe him in the appendix as a “maverick.” Given that these two men shared the cover of Time Magazine for heading the two projects that successfully mapped the human genome for the first time, this may seem odd, unless one knows of the years of tension between the governmental researcher Collins and the privately funded Venter. In Venter’s book about the race to unlock the genome, Collins was frequently, and perhaps unfairly, depicted as an adversary. Collins may have sought to seem more mature by not using his own book to attack back, but leaving Venter out of the story almost entirely seems petty as well.And while readers may end up sympathizing with Collins on the merits, or at least share his fears about the commercialization of genetics, they may regret that his side of the argument isn’t presented with more passion, skill, and panache.

  • Julie
    2018-11-27 12:28

    This isn't a book I'd usually pick up. Written by the director of the Human Genome Project, it's all about genetics and how recent revolutions in that field will affect the future of personalized medicine. That said, it's very well-written. Dr. Collins writes for a lay audience, presenting enough basic genetics for the reader to understand his points (sometimes accompanied by helpful illustrations) but yet not enough to make the content overwhelming.Each section touches on some aspect of genetics, highlighted by case studies. Discussions start with conditions where a single "misspelled" letter in the genome causes disease (like cystic fibrosis) or much higher susceptibility to disease (like the BRCA1/2 variant yielding much higher risk for breast and ovarian cancer). But they broaden out to conditions where multiple genes are at work (to greater or lesser extent), how genes might interact with environmental conditions, what role your genes might have in personality traits or aging, and a number of other highly interesting topics. Collins mentions that some companies are already offering to sequence your entire genome for you and analyze the findings, and then discusses whether people would actually want to know their own risk factors. (The answer, like so many things, is: "It depends.") At the end of each chapter is a short list of practical action steps you can take now, with the resources currently available.Collins ends with a section on the potential future of genetics and personalized medicine. I expect that just about everything he talks about beyond the next 5-10 years is going to prove to be wrong, just because the field is moving so fast. Collins himself admits that advances in the last 2-3 years would have seemed far-fetched as little as seven or eight years ago. I don't expect that pace to slow down any time soon. And I look forward to seeing some of that progress actually trickle down to the level of individualized care for the average person.

  • Manuel
    2018-12-10 13:18

    This book is best for people that have an interest in genetics, but maybe not for those that are already familiar with the subject. The reason I say that is because there is plenty of introductory-level concepts in here, enough to familiarize a wandering eye but a little dull for someone who may have a few college level courses on cellular biology. The purpose of this book is not necessarily to go in depth and analyze the ins and outs of the relationship between medicine and the genome. Rather, it's to inspire its reader to take their future into their own hands. It's to show that we can be in control of our health more than many assume. I think the author does a good job of providing examples of different diseases related to the genome, what is being done about some of these diseases in the medical field, and how individuals' lives have been spared due to proper precautions. Personally, I would have really enjoyed to read more of the mechanisms behind some of these illnesses, but I understand that it's not necessarily imperative to the book's purpose or message.

  • David
    2018-11-10 06:23

    Really easy to read and digest book about the recent discoveries in the human genome project and general genetic research but someone who really knows. I learnt a lot and can now understand what a gene is, a base pair, and an insight into how one mis-spell in the genome could lead to a devastating health condition. The book is written for the guy in the street to understand how these terms will become more and more important as consumers get access to genetic maps of their own body. I think everyone will need to be more conversant with DNA and how a deeper knowledge of what it is and how it works and how it can affect their life.

  • Eric Chen
    2018-11-15 12:23

    A very solid book on the latest implications of genetic science on medicine. Coming from a renowned scientist, quality of the information is very high. One finds the typical caveats and qualifiers associated with the cutting edge of science. I would recommend this book to anyone seeking a solid, well informed and balanced introduction to the fascinating topic of personalized medicine.The author tried to keep the science in the book at a rather low level which is an understandable choice. If anyone knows a more in depth treatment of the same or a similar topic, I would appreciate a pointer. The author also avoided delving too deeply into topics fraught with controversies.

  • Shahd Bensaoud
    2018-11-23 06:30

    To be honest, I didn't read the full book. I read some chapters as an extra reading for one of modules, genetics of common disease.

  • Jun Yang
    2018-11-12 06:21


  • Andrew
    2018-12-04 13:18

    Dr. Francis Collins is well-known for his work in genetics especially on the Human Genome Project. This book discusses the future of DNA in medicine. The organization is poor and the reader engagement is lacking. The actual science of DNA is glossed over to focus on self-help messages like stop smoking and obesity. The appendix does have a bit more detail about DNA science but at that point the reader is finished with the book.A few random observations are included in the spoiler: (view spoiler)[The state of genetics in 2010 is already a bit outdated. One or two changes among 3 billion base pairs of DNA in our genome results in major advancements in human life.Pharmacogenomics studies specific genetic variations that improve medicine. Genetic testing is rapidly advancing for babies. Commercialization of genetics is forcing important Ethical dilemmas. Companies will sequence entire genome and then analyze potential risk factors for certain diseases.(hide spoiler)]

  • Ele-Reet
    2018-11-20 11:27

    See oli väga põnev raamat. Nüüd on mu google wishlistis hulganisti raamatuid, mille pealkirjas on kas sõna personaalmeditsiin või farmakogeneetika. Minu suureks pettumuseks on Eestis vastavateemalised mind huvitavad raamatud kättesaadavad ainult Tartu ülikooli raamatukogu lugejatele. Ma isegi guugeldasin selle kohta, et kas Eestis farmakogeneetikat ka kuskil õpitakse. Ma väga soovitan seda raamatut lugeda ja ma ise tahaks kangesti teema kohta veel palju rohkem teada. Põnev on just see ka, et autor on ise paljude oluliste avastuste juures olnud...Muidugi ma tahaks teada, mis tal aastal 2017 öelda on (see raamat on orginaalis 2010. aastal avaldatud ja mõnes kohas ütleb, et mingid asjad, mis olid aastal 2003 mõeldamatud, on selleks ajaks teoks saanud, nüüd samasugune vahe 2010. aastaga), aga paraku vaatasin, et Amazonist paistis vastu ainult 2012. aastal kellegagi koos kirjutatud raamat, aga ma väga loodaksin, et tal on kuskil mõni käsikiri valmimas. Mina soovitan küll väga lugeda.

  • Al Green
    2018-12-05 07:32

    I felt this was a great book especially for those without a scientific background or those beginning to have an interest in genetics.As a medical student with a BS in Biochemistry I did find a lot of the book to be fairly basic and I was left wanting more after several of the chapters. With that said, I did learn quite a bit and did enjoy the real world examples that Dr. Collins provided

  • Amanda
    2018-11-26 09:12

    Both smart and opinionated, shed basic light on some of the genetic test advancements and his fear of stem cell morality later in the book. Not a bad read for those looking to learn more general information but should be warned it is just one scientist's opinion.

  • Brianna Berrios
    2018-11-20 07:15

    Was personally too low-level for me & was a little uncomfortable with how much personal opinion Collins injected into his writing. Writing style was occasionally too bland as well. Topics were interesting, but unraveling of said topics was not.

  • Hassane Charafeddine
    2018-12-01 13:07

    A breathtaking book, written in an amazing way. A mix of science and life styles, where ethical approaches were never missed. It is a must read for all people so they can master the language of their lives!

  • Jostalady
    2018-11-24 07:11

    While it has been a few years since this was published and of course we see new studies all of the time, the heart of the information is solid. I learned a lot of information I hadn't gotten from other sources. The work on the human genome project and how it laid the groundwork for all future work is important to understand. The stories of how personalized medicine has already helped people and what the potential could be for the future. Right now we have for the low, low price of $5 comparing your DNA test to SNPedia for the user to try and sort out the meaning of different scientific studies and how it applies to them. Also 23 and me, blocked and now tentatively trying on a smaller scale to connect your DNA to studies that could warrant your attention. The book poses questions for ethical considerations, some of which have recently been settled through a set of guidelines for researchers, but the aging details in the book can easily be overcome by getting an updated edition out there.616.042 C7124L 2010

  • Christopher Jones
    2018-11-24 06:07

    I love the material and the organized way it was presented, but I found the author's voice to be not as convincing for telling the story of how we came about the genomics revolution. This book was clearly intended for a popular audience, which is fine by me, but it was written more like a memoir-ical understanding of the field of genetics. I expected a Bill Bryson-style or Mary Roach-style romp through the genomics field, where the information is presented as a narrative in an organized manner, but I did not get that. With some fields being covered in detail and others barely glanced at, perhaps I aimed too high. However, despite my criticisms, I found the book highly readable. The author is incredibly knowledgable and concise. He presents visions for the future that are inspiring and hopeful. I think that this book is for anybody curious about what genetics has done, generally, and curious about the possibilities of genetics (which there could have been much more of).

  • Paul
    2018-11-29 12:09

    Jesus christ. This may have been the worst book I've read this year. It reminds me of the science equivalent of a politician's memoirs. There is no actionable information here, and the generalized information is basically buried among a bunch of bullshit, poorly-justified opinions about things.The summary for "how to join the personalized medicine revolution" is, basically, "you can't, because it's not here yet." But, of course, Collins goes out of his way to pretend that's not the case, and gives you a bunch of half-assed predictions anyway.Save yourself some time, Do not read this book. Though it's completely irrational, after reading this book, my main takeaway was, "I hope Francis S. Collins goes blind", but of course he'd probably write some dumbass article or something about how one day in the future someone might fix his eyes.

  • Frank Peters
    2018-11-24 10:24

    My response to this book is mixed. On the positive – I learned a significant amount of what the state of genetic medical research (in 2010), as well as an optimistic perspective of where this would go. On the negative, the book seems based the extremely self-centred perspective of a person born into affluence. The reason for this is that much of the book discussed how we can improve and extend our lives through expensive medical treatments. There seemed to be an implicit assumption that either the person was rich, or else they could assume large sums would be paid by the government. Either way, I found the self-centred nature of the book disturbing. If you are interested in trends in modern genetics, then the book is likely worth reading. In my case, I am relieved that the book is over.

  • Matt
    2018-11-10 13:18

    Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health and former director of the Human Genome Project, leads readers on a survey of practical applications for genetics in health and medicine. I picked this book up hoping to learn more about research into rare genetic conditions. There wasn't much along those lines, as the content was much more of general interest. Still, it was unbelievably fascinating to learn the many ways that genetics will be used in the future to personally tailor medical treatments, apprise us of our personal health risks, and contribute to potentially life saving treatments. There is a medical revolution coming, and this is a great preview. If you're looking for hardcore science, you'll be disappointed; Collins is aiming right at lay readers like me.

  • Bobbettylou
    2018-11-22 08:15

    Even though it was published only 5 years ago, it is likely a bit dated by now since the field of personalized medicine is at least theoretically fast-moving. There is no one better able than the author Francis S. Collins to write such a book. AS Director of the National Institutes of Health and former director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (he was Director when the sequencing of the human genome was completed in 2000) he not only knows this field better than anyone else, he personifies it! And he is an excellent communicator of technical scientific subjects in non-technical language.This book can and should be read by all who are even moderately concerned about medical advances that can and will impact human health.

  • Michael
    2018-12-06 13:20

    Francis Collins is the ideal person to write this book. He's made major discoveries in human genetics; he led the Human Genome Research Project; he was the Director of the NHGRI; and now he's the Director of NIH. Truly amazing achievements!If you're interested in how medicine will be transformed by complete genome sequencing, you're in for a treat. Given my interest in health and medicine, I finished the book in a few days. The book is filled with touching personal anecdotes and great information. I think his predictions, especially within the next 5-10 years are spot on. May the future of medicine be even brighter than the future he envisions.

  • Frank Brennan
    2018-11-18 12:16

    Very readable for the non-scientest. It's like you are sitting in an auditorium listening to the one the giants of our time. Collins' work adds focus to the future world of medicine as genetists delve deeper into more DNA and how truly it can be a predictor of the future. Indeed, as Francis Collins notes, there is already a lot you can learn -- if you really want to. Interested in having your DNA spliced and diced?? Collins makes recommendation on three of the top companies in consumer DNA testing. And even if you're not up to date on just what DNA is, Collins offers a chapter on DNA for Dummies, my descriptor, not his.

  • Readnponder
    2018-12-02 12:08

    This book exposed me to ground-breaking, genetic-based diagnosis and treatment of diseases. I am a fan of Francis Collins. Loved his early book "The Language of God" and have heard him speak several times. There is no faith or religion in this particular book. Just medical science. However, Collins explains medicine in easy-to-understand laymen's terms. Did I retain all that data he put forth? No. However, I came away with a sense of what "personalized medicine" can mean for patients in the future.

  • Cheryl
    2018-11-23 09:18

    Molecular genetics is fascinating so I really enjoyed this one. It's amazing that one day in the not too distant future, patients will receive personalized prescriptions based upon their individual genetic screen in order to maximize the positive and minimize the negative side effects of medication. Unreal! This book made me really think about getting my genetic screen done just to see the probabilities of what my genes might predict for me. At the risk of sounding like a science geek, I really believe this will be to the 21st century what penicillin was to the 20th century.......

  • Armando Alcazar
    2018-11-24 07:14

    Realmente buen libro, It’s a must read for genetics students pero también para todos aquellos que estén interesados en el milagro de la vida, como las instrucciones que llevan a tener esa energía para leer, pensar, para enamorarse de la vida! Esa información esta tan perfectamente organizada en nuestras células, pero una diminuta falla en esa organización puede llevarnos a tener una vida totalmente diferente a lo que esperamos (ej. Cáncer, Daltonismo, síndrome de Down, Hemofilia, neurofibromatosis, fibrosis cística, etc.).

  • Annie
    2018-11-11 13:29

    In a word: terrible. The author may be a good scientist, but when writing this book he was clearly pandering to the lowest common denominator in his audience, and the result is just not good. I much preferred the book Kevin Davis wrote, as it covers much of the same ethical issues posed by genome sequencing, and wasn't nearly as painful to read.

  • Bryan
    2018-11-16 12:20

    Good book. I bought this book on accident instead of The Language of God. It worked out though, as I learned a lot about health care and genetics, which was a subject I knew little about. It's an easy and fairly interesting read. However, at times it feels like a long commercial for personalized medicine, but I enjoyed it despite this flaw. Recommended for people who are interested in health care or science.

  • Cynthia
    2018-11-18 08:31

    An interesting read about genetics and DNA in easy to understand lay terms. Our DNA not only predisposes (or condemns) us to some diseases (often with an environmental component) but affects how medications will impact us from effective to not at all to so toxic it sickens or kills us. Science is on the brink of something called "personalized medicine." The glossary of terms at the end is worth a read in and of itself.

  • Anne-marie
    2018-12-10 10:16

    He repeats his public service announcement about "How You Can Join the Personalized Medicine Revolution" a bit too often. I think I would have enjoyed this more on paper, but since it was an audiobook, it was hard to skip over those sections. And for goodness sakes, he actually reads out all the web addresses in the audiobook! Hearing someone *say* "w-w-w-dot" 500 times gets really old. Get the paper version!

  • Stacey
    2018-12-10 13:17

    It's written like a parade magazine article, so low-level, with lots of personal interest examples, and checklists, which bugged me a bit at first until the genetics got increasingly more complicated and detailed. The book focuses on recent successes in the field and looks ahead to possible future developments and applications for optimizing individual health outcomes using genetic testing and research.

  • Trey Nowell
    2018-11-20 07:28

    Excellent groundbreaking work on where our future as the human race is heading. I like the brief overviews of what he discusses such as health, disorders, diseases, etc. Mapping the human genome is absolutely amazing to me, and I feel that this area will gain the funding it needs in the future, a no doubt, Collins will have a profound imprint in this for years to come.