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If you’re interested in biotechnology and want to read some interesting and inspiring, this book list is for you. These ten books for biomedical engineers are meant to educate the reader in an entertaining way and to ignite your passion for biotech. Here are some great books for biomedical engineers that aren’t textbooks!
- The Matter of the Heart: A History of the Heart in Eleven Operations
- Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
- The Gene: An Intimate History
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
- The Perfect Predator: A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug: A Memoir
- Rewired: An Unlikely Doctor, a Brave Amputee, and a Medical Miracle That Made History
- Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human
- The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race
- CRISPR: A Powerful Way to Change DNA
- Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide
For more interesting reads, check out 10 Best Biotechnology Books.
1. The Matter of the Heart: A History of the Heart in Eleven Operations
The heart is a complex organ that has fascinated humans for all of history. In The Matter of the Heart: A History of the Heart in Eleven Operations, Thomas Morris tells us the story of the evolution of heart procedures and advancements by telling the tale of eleven groundbreaking surgeries. Everything from the ‘blue baby’ procedure that first took place in 1945 to the first total heart transplant. It covers the technical and emotional challenges that surgeons have faced over the years in an entertaining 432-page story.
Nowadays, many biomedical engineers work in the heart industry. With recent advancements in bioprinting organs and transcatheter heart valves, this would be a fascinated read for any biomedical engineering student interested in working in the cardiac field.
2. Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer
Cancer is one of the most studied diseases in the world. According to the CDC, in the US alone, 1.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year and 600,000 people die from it, making it the second leading cause of death in the United States. Siddhartha Mukherjee, a medical oncologist, tells the stories of his patients’ battle with cancer. Mukherjee covers the heartbreaking history and hopeful future of cancer. He goes into how our understanding of cancer has evolved over the years and how recent medical and technological advancements have allowed us to make amazing discoveries and continue to do so.
Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer was later made into a 3-part documentary. Click here to watch the trailer to get a better sense of this heartfelt book.
3. The Gene: An Intimate History
The Gene: An Intimate History is another bestseller by Siddhartha Mukherjee. In this biography, Mukherjee tells the story of heredity and how a person’s genome can have a significant influence on their life. He discusses the history of the human understanding of genetics all the way from Aristotle and Pythagoras to the 21st century understanding. Our genes make us who we are. The better we understand them, the more we’ll be able to advance as a society.
This book would be especially interesting for biomedical engineers interested in the study of genetics and gene therapy. Genetics is a fascinating and growing field as we understand the importance of genetics and the potential gene therapy has for our society.
4. 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. Unfortunately, she ended up dying later that year, but a sample of her cells miraculously lived on. Dr. George Gey realized her cells were unique and went on to name them “HeLa” cells. HeLa cells ended up being vital for the development of the polio vaccine, 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 went on to be vital for several medical advancements. However, she also discusses the lack of recognition and compensation Henrietta and her family received and the scientific malpractice that took place.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a fascinating and essential read for any biomedical engineer interested in cell therapy and the study of genetics.
5. The Perfect Predator: A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug: A Memoir
This memoir follows the story of epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee and her husband Tom Patterson. While vacationing in Egypt, Tom became ill with a stomach bug which quickly developed into something way more serious. It was revealed that Tom was fighting one of the most dangerous and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the world. Steffanie had to consult an almost 100-year-old treatment in attempt to save her husband.
This story is inspiring and captivating. Perfect for the biomedical engineer that wants to be motivated by the power of what a scientist on a mission can accomplish.
6. Rewired: An Unlikely Doctor, a Brave Amputee, and a Medical Miracle That Made History
When Melissa Loomis gets bitten by a raccoon, it doesn’t seem that serious. But after days of treatments and recurring infection, it becomes obvious that amputation is the only option left. Dr. Ajay Seth and Melissa go on a mission to change the world of prosthetics and go on to invent the first prosthetic that can be moved with a patient’s mind and perceive touch. Dr. Seth and his team in a local community hospital invented one of the world’s most advanced prosthetic, all without any special training or funding.
This memoir would be an inspiring read for any biomedical engineering student interesting in designing prosthetics.
7. Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human
This memoir by Michael Chorost is a lesser-known book. It tells the story of a man who loses his hearing in his thirties and gets a cochlear implant to restore his hearing. The story details the author’s experience getting the implant, the physical effects of getting his hearing back, and the emotional effects of being part “machine”.
Many biomedical engineers work on cochlear implants. As engineers, we are fascinated by the combination of technology and the human body, and this is a first-hand account of just that.
8. The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race
With over 4.7 stars and 9,147 reviews on Amazon, The Code Breaker is one of the most popular books on biotechnology. It was also awarded A Best Book of 2021 by Blomberg BuisnessWeek, Time, and The Washington Post. It covers the incredible story of Jennifer Doudna, how she became fascinated with genetics and went on to invent CRISPR, an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. CRISPR has the potential to be the catalyst of a revolution in life-science and medicine.
This book is more of a story of how CRISPR became to be. If you’re looking for more of a scientific introduction into CRISPR and how it works, check out book #9 on our list.
9. CRISPR: A Powerful Way to Change DNA
Crisp-Cas is a relatively recent biotechnological tool that can scan DNA sequences to find errors and correct the faulty genes by essentially cutting them out and replacing them with the correct genes. It’s a technology that’s growing in popularity and a topic of interest in biomedical engineering.
In CRISPR: A Powerful Way to Change DNA, Yolanda Ridge breaks down Crispr in easy-to-understand terms. It covers everything from how CRISPR works, to what it can be used for, and the ethical dilemmas that surround it. This book is best for individuals who want to get a basic understanding of CRISPR in a fun, easy-to-read way. The book is even illustrated and has diagrams to help break down information!
10. Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide
Dr. Paul Knoepfler is a professor at UC Davis School of Medicine studying stem cells and cancer cell biology. Being so heavily involved in the research and having battled cancer himself, he aims to explain stem cell technology in an easy-to-understand way.
In Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide, Knoepfler gives a detailed and captivating introduction to stem cells. Dr. Knoepfler explains the complexities of stem cells in a way that is understandable to the average person without over-simplifying it. He explains how stem cells work, the amazing potential the technology shows in treating some of the most serious diseases, and even the possible ethical dilemmas that surround the use of stem cells.
This would be a great read for any biomedical engineers interested in learning more about stem cell therapy in a fun and interesting way (i.e. not a boring textbook).