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  • Published: 29 August 2013
  • ISBN: 9780141972527
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 256

The Compatibility Gene




The story of the crucial genes that define our relationships, our health and our individuality

We each possess a similar set of around 25,000 human genes. Yet a tiny, distinctive cluster of these genes plays a disproportionately large part in how our bodies work. These few genes, argues Daniel M. Davis, hold the key to who we are as individuals and our relationship to the world: how we combat disease, how our brains are wired, how attractive we are, even how likely we are to reproduce.

In The Compatibility Gene, one of our foremost immunologists tells the remarkable history of these genes' discovery and the unlocking of their secrets. From the British scientific pioneers who, during the Second World War, struggled to understand the mysteries of transplants and grafts, to the Swiss zoologist who devised an entirely new method of assessing potential couples' compatibility based on the smell of worn T-shirts, Davis traces what is nothing less than a scientific revolution in our understanding of the human body: a global adventure spanning some sixty years.

Davis shows how the compatibility gene is radically transforming our knowledge of the way our bodies work - and is having profound consequences for medical research and ethics. Looking to the future, he considers the startling possibilities of what these wondrous discoveries might mean for you and me.

  • Published: 29 August 2013
  • ISBN: 9780141972527
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 256

About the author

Daniel M Davis

Daniel M. Davis is Professor of Immunology at the University of Manchester. His research, using super-resolution microscopy to study immune cell biology, was listed in Discover magazine as one of the top 100 breakthroughs of the year. His previous book, The Compatibility Gene, was longlisted for the 2014 Royal Society Winton Science Book Prize, shortlisted for the Society of Biology Book Prize and described by Bill Bryson in the Guardian’s Books of the Year as ‘elegantly written and unexpectedly gripping’. He is also the author of over 120 academic papers, collectively cited over 10,000 times, including articles in Nature, Science and Scientific American.

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Praise for The Compatibility Gene

An elegantly written, unexpectedly gripping account of how scientists painstakingly unravelled the way in which a small group of genes ... crucially influence, and unexpectedly interconnect, various aspects of our lives... Lab work has rarely been made to seem more interesting or heroic

Bill Bryson, Guardian, Books of the Year 2013

Dr. Davis's readable and informative book takes the reader into unexpectedly interesting corners of both the immune system and the lives of immunologists. It is packed with an insider's knowledge - not just of the field, but of where its bodies are buried

Nicholas Wade, New York Times

Wonderful pen-portraits of the many scientists involved in this fast-moving field ... 5 out of 5 stars

Henry Gee, BBC Focus magazine

The genes that make you a true individual ... Davis provides a well-written and easy-to-read account of the sometimes complicated biology behind the crucial genes that affect our lives so profoundly

New Scientist

A fascinating, expertly told story

Michael Brooks, New Statesman

Davis ranges energetically through the research. Cultural references and anecdotes abound

Nature

Davis makes the twists and turns all count

Guardian

Davis weaves a warm biographical thread through his tale of scientific discovery, revealing the drive and passion of those in the vanguard of research ... unusual results, astonishing implications and ethical dilemmas

The Times

Genes help make us what we are, but in the often overstated claims of what DNA can actually say one crucial section of the double helix has largely been ignored. This book fills that gap. The genes behind our system of diversity code for the clues that control tissue transplants, responses to infection and even sexual success. They are complex indeed but the Compatibility Gene cuts through the complexity to reveal the startling truth about perhaps the most important section of the molecule that defines what it means to be human

Steve Jones, author of 'Almost Like A Whale'

There aren't many stories of scientific endeavour that have never been told. This is one of them. Ostensibly about a set of genes that we all have and need, this book is really about the men and women who discovered them and worked out what they do. It's about brilliant insights and lucky guesses; the glory of being proved right and the paralysing fear of getting it wrong; the passion for cures and the lust for Nobels. It's a search for the essence of scientific greatness by a scientist who is headed that way himself

Armand Marie Leroi, author of 'Mutants'

Who am I? What makes me different from everyone else? Daniel Davis recounts the remarkable science that has answered one version of these questions. He makes immunology as fascinating to popular science readers as cosmology, consciousness, and evolution

Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and the author of 'How the Mind Works' and 'The Better Angels of Our Nature'

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