The best biotechnology book

1 authors have picked their favorite books about biotechnology and why they recommend each book.

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Genentech

By Sally Smith Hughes,

Book cover of Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech

Sally Smith Hughes' highly readable tale of the genesis of Genentech provides a no-holds-barred look into the gritty details of how biotech firms are born. Hughes reveals how scientists, lawyers, and venture capitalists work together and collide in a crucible of competing disciplines and desires to produce transformative advances. For those interesting in biotech entrepreneurship or simply investing in biotech, this book offers key foundational insights into the industry.


Who am I?

K. Lee Lerner is an author, editor, and producer of science and factual media, including four editions of the Gale Encyclopedia of Science and the Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. His expansive writing on science, climate change, disasters, disease, and global issues has earned multiple book and media awards, including books named Outstanding Academic Titles. An aviator, sailor, and member of the National Press Club in Washington, his two global circumnavigations and portfolio of work in challenging and dangerous environments reveal a visceral drive to explore and investigate. With a public intellectual's broad palate and a scientist's regard for evidence-based analysis, Lerner dissects and accessibly explains complex issues. 


I wrote...

Biotechnology: In Context

By Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, Adrienne Wilmoth Lerner, K. Lee Lerner

Book cover of Biotechnology: In Context

What is my book about?

Life is ancient, grounded in the physics, chemistry, and evolutionary biology of Earth. In contrast, today's biotechnology marshals new ideas and techniques with the potential to reshape the planet and life itself. The problems facing the world in fighting hunger, pollution, and disease cry out for innovative scientific solutions. For many, biotechnology offers a beacon of hope. For others, the manipulation of life sounds like a siren's song of peril.

Microcosm

By Carl Zimmer,

Book cover of Microcosm: E. Coli and the New Science of Life

I know I’m double dipping here with another of Carl’s books. I love how he takes one, ubiquitous micro-inhabitant of the human body and uses it to explore what it means to be alive and interconnected with the life in and around us. I love how Carl flips away our human perspective to “view” the word through the chemical-sensing molecules of a single-celled organism – E. coli. Superb, fun science writing.  


Who am I?

I'm enchanted by ecology – how life on Earth is both a web and a seamless continuum. In my first book, Corpse, I explored the organisms that colonize the human body after death. In Good Germs, Bad Germs, I immersed myself in our symbiotic relationship with the ever-present bacteria that live in us and on us. I’m passionate about understanding how we evolved to survive in a bacterial world and how we must take the long-term view of surviving – and thriving – in their ever-present embrace. My joy has been in exploring the world of science and translating this joy into lay-accessible stories that entertain as well as educate. 


I wrote...

Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World

By Jessica Snyder Sachs,

Book cover of Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World

What is my book about?

Public sanitation and antibiotics have delivered historic increases in the human life span. Unintendedly, they have also produced new health crises by disrupting the intimate, age-old balance between humans and the microorganisms that inhabit our bodies and our environment. As a result, antibiotic resistance now ranks among our deadliest medical problems. Good Germs, Bad Germs tells the story of what went terribly wrong in our war on germs. It also offers a hopeful look into a future when antibiotics will be designed and used more wisely, and beyond that, to a day when we may replace antibacterial drugs and cleansers with bacterial ones. 

She Has Her Mother's Laugh

By Carl Zimmer,

Book cover of She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity

Carl Zimmer's authoritative writing, grounded in both science and journalism, reads and captivates like a page-turner novel. Written for a general audience, Zimmer's rich exploration of the history and controversies surrounding how we pass genes and associate traits from one generation to another also offer insights into a field of science central to social and cultural issues related to ancestry, race, sexual differences, evolution, as well as inherited traits and diseases.


Who am I?

K. Lee Lerner is an author, editor, and producer of science and factual media, including four editions of the Gale Encyclopedia of Science and the Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. His expansive writing on science, climate change, disasters, disease, and global issues has earned multiple book and media awards, including books named Outstanding Academic Titles. An aviator, sailor, and member of the National Press Club in Washington, his two global circumnavigations and portfolio of work in challenging and dangerous environments reveal a visceral drive to explore and investigate. With a public intellectual's broad palate and a scientist's regard for evidence-based analysis, Lerner dissects and accessibly explains complex issues. 


I wrote...

Biotechnology: In Context

By Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, Adrienne Wilmoth Lerner, K. Lee Lerner

Book cover of Biotechnology: In Context

What is my book about?

Life is ancient, grounded in the physics, chemistry, and evolutionary biology of Earth. In contrast, today's biotechnology marshals new ideas and techniques with the potential to reshape the planet and life itself. The problems facing the world in fighting hunger, pollution, and disease cry out for innovative scientific solutions. For many, biotechnology offers a beacon of hope. For others, the manipulation of life sounds like a siren's song of peril.

How to Make a Vaccine

By John Rhodes,

Book cover of How to Make a Vaccine: An Essential Guide for Covid-19 and Beyond

John Rhodes, author of The End of Plagues: The Global Battle Against Infectious Disease now offers us a timely, concise, and easy-to-digest book that spans the history of vaccines, including the recent development of mRNA vaccines now on the frontlines of efforts to quell the COVID-19 global pandemic. Rhodes' experience and expertise in immunology and vaccine development show in his clear and easy-to-understand explanations of how vaccines work and why they are an essential public health tool.


Who am I?

K. Lee Lerner is an author, editor, and producer of science and factual media, including four editions of the Gale Encyclopedia of Science and the Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. His expansive writing on science, climate change, disasters, disease, and global issues has earned multiple book and media awards, including books named Outstanding Academic Titles. An aviator, sailor, and member of the National Press Club in Washington, his two global circumnavigations and portfolio of work in challenging and dangerous environments reveal a visceral drive to explore and investigate. With a public intellectual's broad palate and a scientist's regard for evidence-based analysis, Lerner dissects and accessibly explains complex issues. 


I wrote...

Biotechnology: In Context

By Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, Adrienne Wilmoth Lerner, K. Lee Lerner

Book cover of Biotechnology: In Context

What is my book about?

Life is ancient, grounded in the physics, chemistry, and evolutionary biology of Earth. In contrast, today's biotechnology marshals new ideas and techniques with the potential to reshape the planet and life itself. The problems facing the world in fighting hunger, pollution, and disease cry out for innovative scientific solutions. For many, biotechnology offers a beacon of hope. For others, the manipulation of life sounds like a siren's song of peril.

Terminal

By Robin Cook,

Book cover of Terminal

This medical sci-fi thriller is an exploration of the darker side of biotechnology. It follows a med student as he unravels the strange mystery of multiple cases of medulloblastoma and how a prestigious medical center is claiming a 100% remission rate for this type of cancer. Readers sink into the medical world and are kept at the edge of their seats as this mesmerizing tale takes them on a wild ride from start to finish.


Who am I?

As a massive nerd from a very young age, I have always gravitated towards science and sci-fi stories. When it comes to YA and NA novels, most tend to be dystopian fiction or borrow heavily from fantasy. Hard sci-fi scenarios and real scientific speculation are hard to come by. When well-researched science meets an awesome storyline, that is my definition of perfection—what I love reading and also what I strive for as a writer


I wrote...

Komoreby

By Su Vida,

Book cover of Komoreby

What is my book about?

Follow the tale of Evanna, a petite gamer girl, when she moves to a glamorous eco-city called Komoreby. Reunited with her childhood bestie at the prestigious Komoreby High, it's the adventure of her life!

When the very first day spirals to rock bottom, she thinks life can't get any worse—until a school tour of the city's gargantuan particle collider takes a bizarre turn. Now she's zipped into a warped new reality with draconian rules that control her every move. To find her way home, she must delve into a rabbit hole of quantum physics and navigate a social web with a mysterious rocker guy she's relentlessly drawn to. 

I Contain Multitudes

By Ed Yong,

Book cover of I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

With both humor and scientific precision, Ed Yong takes us through the microscope lens into the world of microbes and microbiology that share our world and, in some cases, our bodies. Yong's book connects those worlds to show our interdependence. His book provides ample evidence that while disease-causing microbes grab most of the headlines, many others in the microbiome are essential allies for a healthy life and are critical to advancements in biotechnology.


Who am I?

K. Lee Lerner is an author, editor, and producer of science and factual media, including four editions of the Gale Encyclopedia of Science and the Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. His expansive writing on science, climate change, disasters, disease, and global issues has earned multiple book and media awards, including books named Outstanding Academic Titles. An aviator, sailor, and member of the National Press Club in Washington, his two global circumnavigations and portfolio of work in challenging and dangerous environments reveal a visceral drive to explore and investigate. With a public intellectual's broad palate and a scientist's regard for evidence-based analysis, Lerner dissects and accessibly explains complex issues. 


I wrote...

Biotechnology: In Context

By Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, Adrienne Wilmoth Lerner, K. Lee Lerner

Book cover of Biotechnology: In Context

What is my book about?

Life is ancient, grounded in the physics, chemistry, and evolutionary biology of Earth. In contrast, today's biotechnology marshals new ideas and techniques with the potential to reshape the planet and life itself. The problems facing the world in fighting hunger, pollution, and disease cry out for innovative scientific solutions. For many, biotechnology offers a beacon of hope. For others, the manipulation of life sounds like a siren's song of peril.

Spineless

By Juli Berwald,

Book cover of Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone

Whenever I read a book about animals, I always enhance my craft by paying attention to how the writer expands and deepens our knowledge about each particular species, especially when the species seems to be as uninteresting as a jellyfish. But, as it turns out, jellyfish are anything but uninteresting. Juli Berwald takes this little-known creature and enlivens its presence with us here on earth through her in-depth discussions on such topics as jellyfish reproduction, encounters with wild jellyfish, and an investigation into just how they may impact life on land. She even manages to blend in bits of her own personal story. I was charmed by Spineless


Who am I?

When writing stories about animals, I love to seek out wild encounters with the animals I’m writing about. I love to observe their wild ways and witness their lives, even if only for a moment. To write the owl stories for The Hidden Lives of Owls, I followed scientists into the wilds of Montana, searched the Alaskan tundra, and trekked through the soggy, green forests of Washington. My journeys to watch whales around the world led to The Breath of a Whale: The Science and Spirit of Pacific Ocean Giants. My animal stories have also been published in American Nature Writing: 2003, Smithsonian Magazine, High Country News, The Ecologist, and The Christian Science Monitor among others.


I wrote...

The Hidden Lives of Owls: The Science and Spirit of Nature's Most Elusive Birds

By Leigh Calvez,

Book cover of The Hidden Lives of Owls: The Science and Spirit of Nature's Most Elusive Birds

What is my book about?

“In the dim light of evening, you step out of the forest. A sudden movement startles you, as a large bird on silent wings flies in front of you. Your heart pounds in your chest, not in fear but with the thrill of seeing a wild owl. You are owling…”

Join naturalist Leigh Calvez as she explores the secret world of owls, from owl-watching to avian science—often in the dead of night. These creatures have a certain mystery about them, which is just part of what makes them so fascinating. Calvez relays scientific facts and observations in entertaining, accessible ways while also exploring questions about the human-animal connection, owl obsession, habitat, owl calls, social behavior, and mythology.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

By Mary E. Pearson,

Book cover of The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Jenna Fox wakes from a year-long coma after a terrible accident and tries to figure out who she is now. This is a book with futuristic medicine and technology, but the feelings and emotions are universal. Jenna’s struggle to find out the truth about her past, and her place in the present make this one of my very favorite books, which I’ve read and reread many times.


Who am I?

I went into foster care at nine months old, was adopted three years later, and as an adult I was reunited with five siblings I never knew I had. I’ve spent my whole life wondering or searching for the truths about my past. 


I wrote...

The Name She Gave Me

By Betty Culley,

Book cover of The Name She Gave Me

What is my book about?

Rynn was born with a hole in her heart—literally. Although it was fixed long ago, she still feels an emptiness there when she wonders about her birth family. As her relationship with her adoptive mother fractures, Rynn finally decides she needs to know more about the rest of her family. Her search starts with a name, the only thing she has from her birth mother, and she quickly learns that she has a younger sister living in foster care in a nearby town. But if Rynn reconnects with her biological sister, it may drive her adoptive family apart for good.

This powerful story uncovers both beautiful and heartbreaking truths and explores how challenging, yet healing, family can be.

Double Helix

By Nancy Werlin,

Book cover of Double Helix

A young adult novel that is part thriller, part love story, and part family drama. I love all three! But a book steeped in Biotech? I wasn’t sure. When a friend recommended Double Helix, I took a chance and was pleasantly surprised. Eli “lucks” into a job at a biotech company which his father is vehemently against. He doesn’t say why, but Eli assumes it has to do with a dislike for Eli’s new boss and his mother’s medical condition (Huntington’s Disease). The job comes with a big salary and even bigger secrets. Note to Eli: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is! Although the story got a bit “techy” for me at times, it’s a page-turner with a solid plot and unexpected twists.  


Who am I?

The Complete Book of Aspen is based on my DNA experience. I was crushed after taking a DNA test to learn that the man who raised me was not my biological father. It rocked the foundation my life was built upon. Suddenly I was struggling with my identity, wondering why I am who I am. This led to a deep dive into DNA-related books. I read everything I could, from DNA science to memoirs to novels whose characters were affected by DNA discoveries. I liked seeing how these brave souls handled their heartbreak. Not only is the subject fascinating, but it’s also comforting to know, fictional or not, that we're never alone.


I wrote...

The Complete Book of Aspen

By Danna Smith,

Book cover of The Complete Book of Aspen

What is my book about?

When Aspen’s best friend gives her a DNA test kit, a half teaspoon of spit is all it takes to discover her entire life has been a lie.

Learning that her beloved late father was not her biological father—and that her mother had deceived her—ignites a wild storm of emotions. Aspen struggles with her identity and the burden of being the gatekeeper of this closely guarded family secret. When her mother refuses to reveal her biological father’s name, Aspen sets out on a courageous journey to find him. A heartbreakingly hopeful young adult novel-in-verse by award-winning author and poet, Danna Smith, based on her true DNA experience. 

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