G some although he mostly took it to twitter where he accused me of having an agenda Some of the best popular science books tell us as much about the people as the science and that is the approach taken by Daniel Davis In exploring the compatibility gene or accurately the compatibility genes I don t know why it s singular in the title He takes us on a voyage of discovery through the key steps to identifying the small group of genes that seem to contribute to making that individual or less compatible with other people whether on the level of transplants or sexual compatibility taking in our growing understanding of the immune system along the wayIt
probably helps that Davis is a practising scientist in the field the helps that Davis is a practising scientist in the field the of research at the University of Manchester s Collaborative Centre for Inflammation Research and a visiting professor at Imperial College London Often frankly discovering the book is by a working scientist can mean turgid text or an inability to explain the science in a way the general reader can understand but Davis writes fluently and often beautifully as much in love with the history of his trade as the scientific breakthroughs he coversA good example of the way he brings a topic to life is the first subject to come under his spotlight the Nobel Prize winning Peter Medawar and his colleagues several of whom also get a good biographical introduction I ve read before about Medawar s work on rejection and compatibility in transplants but in Davis hands it s almost as if ou are talking to Medawar about his life and achievements giving a real insight into the bumpy process of scientific discoveryThe book divides into three looking at the scientific revolution in compatibility the frontier of compatibility and the overarching system which includes the near notorious T shirt sniffing research and the remarkable suggestion that a couple having the right mix of compatibility genes can enhance their ability to have children All in all there s a good mix of the relatively familiar and the surprising new all handled in Davis measured likeable phrasingI only really have two small niggles I ve never written a review et without any One is that I think Davis is almost too close to the subject and as a result perhaps gives it of a sense of importance than it deserves Of course from a medical viewpoint this is important work but the way he seems to put it up there with the work of Newton Darwin and Einstein perhaps overinflates its importance The other slight problem I have is that for me there is rather too much biography and not uite enough science It s interesting that the lead endorsement in the press release is by Bill Bryson It sounds terrible but I m only really interested in the biographies of a handful of key scientists and that apart I d rather just have a uick sketch and get into the science in a bit depth but I appreciate that this might be a very different opinion from that of many would be readersSo don t be put off by that textbook like low key cover this is a really interesting read about a fascinating area of genetics and medicine Recommended Great book that finds the sweet spot between pop science and academic It can be a valuable supplement
if not essential to an immunology course because at does a great job describing the history of the field and not essential to an immunology course because at does a great job describing the history of the field and the trials and tribulations it took to get to some of the fundamental concepts that we take for granted An added benefit is that it s a great introduction to experimental design as well it goes through a lot of experiments and explains how some could provide only ambiguous answers and the types of positivenegative controls that make for experiments that provide clear cut certaintyOther reviews have talked about how this book spends a lot of time on the personal lives of scientists which is true That being said it was never any less interesting It s a great insight into what a career in research is like the gestation of an idea to published paper the politics the snags scientists motivations and so on If anyone ever wanted to do PhD work this has the added benefit of providing the whole pictureEven if it does devote a lot of time to the personal side the book doesn t suffer any less on the academic side It s still full of many fascinating aspects of immunology on the practical medical applications side and some fascinating future implications This book describes the history of immunology focusing on the genes that help our bodies to discriminate self from non self the major histocompatibility genes The author does a great job explaining a very complex system that to this day we do not completely understand In addition to the history and the basic science the author also spends a section of the book on some of the uniue characteristics of this gene including its potential function in the brain and in body odors and attraction The book is well written and accessible to most with a basic understanding of science. Dies work and is having profound conseuences for medical research and ethics Looking to the future he considers the startling possibilities of what these wondrous discoveries might mean for ou and.
Partners our mental wellbeing and the success of pregnancy Here I felt that he may have overinflated the role of MHC genes at the expense of the immune system in general because after all the MHC is only a part of a system that is considered by some to be second only to the human brain in terms of its complexity Overall this is a good book but would be a better book were it not for the irritating reference to compatibility genes rather than MHC or HLA genes On a similar note the book is also let down by poor explanations of the basic science as if #Davis Feels That The Likely Readership Would #feels that the likely readership would Unable To Understand Personally unable to understand personally suspect that most readers attracted to this book will have some grounding in science I think the book would also benefit from some diagrams to explain the science at present there is just one figure On the other hand the text is well referenced with a useful index both being features I much appreciate in a popular science book What I found really fascinating in this book are the stories of scientists who made all these discoveries and pushed the field of immunology further I ve learned some things about the immune system too of course although it really helps to already know the basic textbook stuff not a book for complete noobs definitely not But it s the social and personal context that really make it an interesting story even for a science student it is all too easy to forget that all the gazillions of papers were written by real living breathing humans And even easier to overlook the efforts put into by people who founded big fields such as immunology and did something really newAlso the epilogue is a gem I hope the author has some TEDtalks or something seems like he s actually hilarious A short compelling look at the immune system s major histocompatibility complex Davis effectively explains how the immune system recognises self and non self and thus effectively identifies disease within the body or on occasion fails to He also looks at the other ways that the compatibility genes affect our body for instance there is an interesting section on the impact of the immune system on pregnancy He also details the major scientific achievements that led to these discoveries I could have done with slightly fewer appellations of hero to the admittedly tireless and brilliant scientists of his narrative but overall it was an enjoyable and informative read A little cheesy and dramatic but really interesting I m going to preface this by saying I read this a few Mommas Boots years ago and some of the details may be hazy Overall I thought Davis did a great job of introducing a complex scientific topic in a way which makes it accessible to people without a scientific background and overall this was an interesting read if a bit dryHowever than while reading any other non fiction science book I ve read reading The Compatibility Gene made me painfully aware of the bias that women in science have historically faced and continue to face It s not that credit was taken away from women and given to men of course fewer women than men were involved in the discoveries detailed as always in the history of science just that there is a disparity in the way in which their personal lives were described I do not think this is Davis fault I am sure he was just working with the information available to him and that the personal lives and voices of the male scientists included in this scientific story were well recorded than any female scientists involved All the same if women being sidelined is something which upsetsou ou might not enjoy this book I read this in a bit of a piecemeal fashion due to holidays so my impressions of it are probably a little scattered than usual It s basically a book which combines immunology and genetics and even some neurology to discuss the way certain genes work in humans Since that s right up my street I found this fascinating although I found some chapters really slow goingOne thing I m not 100% a fan of is the personal details about some of the scientists because it s not really relevant Whether a female scientist prioritises children or her career doesn t have any effect on the importance of her findings and as a way of identifying motives for studying stuff it s pretty weak Not everything has a personal connectionThe main thing I m taking away from this book is that we still don t know half there is to know about the immune system about genetics about our own bodies If that doesn t speak to the importance of such research I don t know what doesDid ou know that dogs have a sexually transmitted cancer Not just an oncovirus like HPV but a contagious cancerOriginally posted here Featuring the author dropping by to let me know that he s not being sexist by focusing on the fact that the female scientists he mentions don t have families but never replying when I asked why he didn t then make a big thing of it for male scientists tooETA Now featuring the author replyin. Munologists tells the remarkable history of these genes' discovery and the unlocking of their secrets Davis shows how the compatibility gene is radically transforming our knowledge of the way our bo. ,