The Code Breaker

By Walter Isaacson,

Book cover of The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race

Book description

The best-selling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns.

In 2012, Nobel Prize winning scientist Jennifer Doudna hit upon an invention that will transform the future of the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA.

Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked The Code Breaker as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Few biographies represent subjects who are still alive. And most often the subject is the main character. However, in Code Breaker, the main character is not limited to Jennifer Doudna. The structural biologist from the University of California, Berkeley. It is also about a team of people all contributing to the discovery of CRISPR. Modern science takes a team and this is true here as well. Isaacson wrote this marvel during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the new science was used to battle this worldwide threat.

The book also highlights how science is built on a foundation of others’ discoveries,…

The Code Breaker is the latest masterwork by the master book builder, Walter Isaacson. Isaacson’s books are long and rich with detail, but every detail is fascinating and necessary for understanding the main characters: what they do, and why they do it. I’ve read Isaacson’s books on Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs. This book is about Jennifer Doudna (pronounced “Dowd-nuh”), a biotech scientist. In collaboration with a French scientist, Emmanuelle Charpentier, Doudna discovered a way (called “CRISPR”) to edit DNA, the so-called “code of life,” and they jointly won the Nobel Prize. If you are at all interested in science…

You may not know Jennifer Doudna’s name, but you’ve probably heard about her shared discovery, CRISPR. This gene-editing process won Doudna a Pulitzer Prize and is poised to help end a host of genetically-defined diseases. Doudna’s discovery wasn’t a solo act, but she pushed the door wide open for rapid-fire correction of many genetic conditions and for the creation of rapid Covid testing. As the parent of a child with a genetically-transferred disease, I count the moment I heard about CRISPR as one of those stand-still moments. CRISPR may or may not be able to change my child’s condition, but…

From Amy's list on biographies of bold women.

The most recent book on this list, Walter Isaacson’s biography of biochemist Jennifer Doudna hits the big issues animating discussions around genetics today: our emerging ability to edit the human genome, the hopeful yet frightening potential for gene therapy and human enhancement, and the implications of COVID-19 and future pandemics on humanity. Isaacson illuminates these social and scientific issues through the lens of Doudna’s life, which also highlights the (very unsatisfactory) way that science has dealt with gender. Isaacson describes the young Doudna’s enchantment with Watson’s The Double Helix, despite its overt sexism, and how it inspired her to…

From Jorge's list on genetics for the general reader.

Acclaimed biographer Walter Isaacson's book Code Breaker, profiles biochemist Jennifer Doudna and her innovative contributions to the development of CRISPR technology that has revolutionized genetic engineering. Doudna shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Emmanuelle Charpentier. Isaacson documents her life and work and well as exploring the potential and perils of gene editing. Isaacson vividly balances scientific explanations of how CRISPR works with coverage of debates regarding its morality. His book exposes the elbows-out world of conflicting egos and disputed patents within the high stakes biotech world.

From K.'s list on biotechnology.

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