10 Best Biotechnology Books

biotechnology books

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If you’re interested in the world of biotechnology and want to read some interesting and inspiring, this book list is for you. Here are some great biotechnology books!

Quick Links:

  1. Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech
  2. Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
  3. The Gene: An Intimate History
  4. Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World
  5. Rise of the Necrofauna: The Science, Ethics, and Risks of De-Extinction
  6. The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race
  7. The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer
  8. The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and Inheritance
  9. I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
  10. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

For even more great book recommendations, check out 10 Captivating Books for Biomedical Engineers.

1. Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech

Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech by Sally Smith Hughes is one of the most highly regarded books in biotechnology. Hughes tells the history of the first large biotech company, Genentech. She tells the story of how it came to be and how it revolutionized the field of biotechnology.

In 1980, Genentech went public, it took over Wallstreet overnight. Within minutes, it saw the largest gain in stock market history. More importantly, it started a frenzy. For the first time in history, people became fascinated by what biotechnology was and what it could mean for our future. It features several accounts from the early players in biotech to give a vivid picture of what it was like in the beginning days of biotech.

This is a great read for people interested in the history of biotech and understanding how large biotech companies come to be.

2. Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer

Every year, 1.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer in the US alone. With it being the second leading cause of death in the US, it is one of the most studied diseases in the world. In this heartfelt book, oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee tells the stories of his patients’ battle with cancer. He covers the history of cancer and goes into the modern day technology being developed to cure it. Mukherjee does a great job of explaining how our understanding of cancer has developed through history and how that correlates with the advancements in medicine that have been made up until now.

Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer was later made into a 3-part documentary. Click here to watch the trailer of the documentary.

3. The Gene: An Intimate History

The Gene: An Intimate History is another bestseller by Siddhartha Mukherjee. The book explains how our understanding of genetics has developed all the way from Aristotle’s and Pythagoras’s theories to the current 21st century knowledge. He explains how a person’s genome significantly influences their life and how the more we understand the role of genetics, the more we’ll be able to advance as a society.

This book would be especially interesting for people interested in genetics and gene therapy.

4. Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World

Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World by Paul Shapiro describes the revolutionary ways we are using science to make our meat cleaner and more sustainable.

From the dawn of time, humans have eaten meat. However, as the population grows, acquiring meat and other animal products has become inefficient, and detrimental to the planet, human health, and the animals themselves. With modern day biotech, we have the capability to grow meat. This would diminish negative environmental effects and allow easier access to cleaner and more sustainable animal products.

This book is perfect for people looking to understand the role that biotechnology has in our food industry. It really demonstrates how biotech is changing all aspects of our society from the way we treat illnesses to the food we consume.

5. Rise of the Necrofauna: The Science, Ethics, and Risks of De-Extinction

Rise of the Necrofauna: The Science, Ethics, and Risks of De-Extinction by Britt Wray describes the real-life Jurastic Park happening in the science community.

Labs across the world are using CRISPR gene editing to “de-extinct” ancient animals, such as the Wooly Mammoth. Wray goes into the reason for doing this, what it may entail, and the effects it would have on our current ecosystems. Wray also discusses the dangers and ethics of it and how it may bring more harm than good.

This is a great read for the Jurassic-Park lovers out there interested in the reading about how modern science removes the fiction from science-fiction.

6. The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race

Rated 4.7 stars with 9,147 reviews on Amazon, The Code Breaker is one of the most popular books on biotechnology. It covers the incredible story of Jennifer Doudna, the woman credited with inventing CRISPR, an easy-to-use gene editing tool. CRISPR is one of the most revolutionary technologies of the 21st century and has the potential to be the catalyst of a revolution in life-science and medicine.

This book is an inspirational tale of how CRISPR became to be. It covers the history of the technology while providing a basic, easy-to-understand explanation of how the technology works.

7. The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer

The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer is by Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr. Elissa Epel, the Nobel Prize winners who discovered the role telomerase has in the aging process and how we can protect telomeres to slow disease and improve our quality of life.

The Telemere Effect is the first book to explain aging at a cellular level and how we can make changes to keep our cells, and therefore ourselves, healthier. It talks about why we age and how we can slow the process. It will cause you to reevaluate how you live your day-to-day life.

8. The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and Inheritance

The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease, and Inheritance by Nessa Carey dives into the world of epigenetics and how it can revolutionize our understanding of life on earth. It talks about why mapping an organism’s genetic code is only one part to understanding how it develops and acts.

Carey strives to understand the behavior of bee colonies, why plants flourish in certain weather, and how humans age and develop disease. Beyond physical biology, epigenetics aims to understand psychological phenomena such as drug addiction and reaction to trauma. The goal of this book is to explain the role that epigenetics has in research and in our understanding of the world.

9. I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong provides an insightful take on the role of microbes. People think of microbes as germs that need to be destroyed when, in reality, they are vital to human life.

I Contain Multiples describes how we coexist with microbes and the role they play in our immune system and protecting us from disease. Microbes do amazing things for all organisms. There are sea creates that exist so deep in the ocean that they rely on microbes as their primary energy source. They allow squid to camouflage and affect our ecosystem. Microbes play a huge role in our health as humans and in the world we live in.

10. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

In 1951, a 31-year-old woman named Henrietta Lacks went to The Johns Hopkins Hospital for cervical cancer treatment. While she died later that year, her cells lived on. Realising her cells were unique, Dr. George Gey coined them “HeLa” cells. HeLa cells had a huge impact on the development of the polio vaccine and well as our understanding cancer, viruses, cloning, and gene mapping.

In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot tells the incredible story of Henrietta and how her cells were pivotal in medical advancements on several fronts. However, she also talks about the ethics of the research and lack of recognition and compensation Henriette and her family received.

While The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks doesn’t exactly fall into the category of biotech, it is a fascinating and essential read for anyone interested in science and research.


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