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05/14/21
Codebreaker by W. Isaacson
Filed under: Recent Posts, Position Searching, Networking, Mentoring, Post-docs, Observ. Trends, Undergraduate majors, Alternate Career Paths
Posted by: site admin @ 6:31 am

During the pandemic it was timely to read Walter Isaacson’s
“The Codebreaker” as it brought to life the transnational process
of understanding viral RNA infections leading to mRNA vaccines.

.
The book, while 700 pages, was so good I needed to gift it to our
daughter who was part of CRISPR projects.  Then our daughter-
in-law, a biologist, asked to get it too.  [I might just gift her a copy.]
.
Isaacson weaves a compelling story of how curiosity driven research
has led to actual treatments for congenital diseases.  It is often
related to Vannevar Bush’s report that offered
“basic curiosity driven research and science is the seed corn
that eventually leads to new technologies and innovations.  Harry
Truman launched NSF based on this report.”
.
Codebreaker also breaks into a timely description of patents
in this realm:
.
“Ever since the republic of Venice in 1474 passed a
statute giving the inventors of any new and ingenious
device the exclusive right to profit from it for 10 years
.
…Biological patents have a long history.  In 1873 the
French biologist Louis Pasteur was awarded the first
known patent for a microorganism:  a method for making
yeast free from organic germs of disease.  Thus, wee have
pasteurized milk, juice, and wine.”
.
“The modern biotechnology industry was born a century
later when a Stanford attorney approached Stanley Cohen
and Herbert Boyer and convinced them to file for a patent
on the method they had devised for the manufacturing of
new genes using recombinant DNA…”
.
Stories of the people involved in this incredible science
epic should be worth the time for scientists to peruse.  He
tells of competition leading to cooperation, mentoring and
collaboration.

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