Now that I’ve finished the Tales from the Genome, Introduction to Genetics course, I’d like to note some of the related resources (some of the links are related to 23andMe.com, a company that sponsored the course, it is the same company whose genetic analysis kit I have used to learn more about my genome and the mutations I have. Unfortunately, in the meantime I have also learned that they were forced to stop selling their kits, luckily I already had my results before that happened).
– PharmGKB: a pharmacogenomics knowledge resource that encompasses clinical information including dosing guidelines and drug labels, potentially clinically actionable gene-drug associations and genotype-phenotype relationships.
Recommended Introductory Reading:
– Cartoon Guide to Genetics (Larry Gonick), 1991
– The Human Genome: A User’s Guide (Hawley and Mori), 1998
Recommended Advanced Reading:
– Exploring Personal Genomics (Dudley and Karczewski), 2013
Useful (and free!) online links for various concepts:
Supplemental Books and Films (for fun!):
– Andrews, Lori. Future Perfect, 2002. Non-fiction. In Future Perfect, Lori Andrews offers a new plan for making decisions as individuals and as a society based on emerging issues of ethics and science.
– Chapman, Matthew. 40 Days and 40 Nights, 2008. Non-fiction. Tells the Kitzmiller v. Dover Board of Education story, decided in late 2005, pitted the teaching of intelligent design (sometimes known as “creationism in a lab coat”) against the teaching of evolution. Matthew Chapman is the great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin.
– Crichton, Michael. Next, 2006. Blends fact and fiction about the current state of gene patents, laws governing human tissues, and gene-based therapies for drug addiction. A page turner that focuses on the morality or lack-thereof of current policies for genetic engineering.
– Davies, Kevin. The $1000 Genome: The Revolution in Genome Sequencing and the Era of Personalized Medicine, 2010. An overview of the scientific, technical, ethical and legal issues in personal genetics. This may be especially useful to people new to the subject and looking for a broad picture of the issues.
– Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene, 1990. Forces an enormous change in the way we see ourselves and the world. Suppose, instead of thinking about organisms using genes to reproduce themselves, as we had since Mendel’s work was rediscovered, we turn it around and imagine that “our” genes build and maintain us in order to make more genes. That simple reversal seems to answer many puzzlers which had stumped scientists for years, and we haven’t thought of evolution in the same way since.
– Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World, 1931. Fiction.* Brave New World takes place on a future Earth where human beings are mass-produced and conditioned for lives in a rigid caste system. As the story progresses, we learn some of the disturbing secrets that lie underneath the bright, shiny facade of this highly-ordered world.
– Klitzman, Robert. Am I My Genes? Confronting Fate and Family Secrets in the Age of Genetic Testing, 2012. Non-fiction. Klitzman interviewed 64 people who faced Huntington’s Disease, breast and ovarian cancer, or Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. The book describes–often in the person’s own words–how each has wrestled with the vast implications that genetics has for their lives and their families.
– Nemayer, Leigh, Jay Agarwal, and Anne Vinsel. Meet Virginia: Biography of a Breast, 2010. Non-fiction. This is a superbly written and beautifully photographed chronicle of a woman’s journey (and the journey of Virginia, as she humorously names her breast) through mastectomy for breast cancer and reconstructive surgery.
– Okines, Hayley, Kerry Okines, and Alison Stokes. Old Before My Time: Hayley Okines’ Life with Progeria, 2012. Non-fiction. The extraordinary life of Britain’s 100-year-old teenager Hayley Okines is like no other 13-year-old schoolgirl. Born with the rare genetic condition progeria, she ages eight times faster than the average person.
– Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, 2010. Non-fiction. Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine.
– Sykes, Bryan. The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry, 2002. Non-fiction. How the identification of a particular strand of DNA that passes unbroken through the maternal line allows scientists to trace our genetic makeup all the way back to prehistoric times, to seven primeval women, the Seven Daughters of Eve.
– Wells, Spencer. The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey, 2004. Non-fiction. Examining the hidden secrets of human evolution in our genetic code, Spencer Wells reveals how developments in the revolutionary science of population genetics have made it possible to create a family tree for the whole of humanity.
– Boys from Brazil (1978). Fiction. Clones of Hitler, do they turn out the same way?
– Darius Goes West (2006). Documentary. First ever cross-country trip of fifteen-year-old Darius Weems, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the world’s primary genetic killer of children.
– GATTACA (1997). Fiction. Explores a design-conscious world in which “designer” babies are the norm and only the genetically well-endowed get to the top.
– Ghost in Your Genes (2008). Documentary. Explores the provocative idea that there may be more to inheritance than genes alone (epigenetics).
– Jurassic Park (1993). Fiction. Using genetic technologies scientists recreate dinosaur genomes and bring them back to life.
– Twilight of the Golds (1996). Fiction. The jumping-off point here is the scientific discovery that homosexuality is genetic–and that the gene can be detected in prenatal testing.
– Wit (2001). Fiction. Details the struggle of facing terminal ovarian cancer (a genetics-related disease) alone.
– XXY (2007). Fiction. Dramatic story of an intersex 15-year-old due to having two X chromosomes and one Y. She lives with her parents, who have to cope with the challenges of her medical condition.