The Beginner's Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize: A Life in Science

Peter Doherty, Author
Peter Doherty, Author . Columbia Univ. $24.95 (294p) ISBN 978-0-231-13896-3
Reviewed on: 03/06/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-282-99036-4
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In 1974, Doherty and Rolf Zinkernagel published a paper on T-cells that changed how researchers thought about the immune system. In 1996, they received a Nobel Prize for that work. Here Doherty reflects on his unexpected journey, from veterinary school in Australia to the royal palace in Stockholm. But this book is not a memoir in the strictest sense—it's more like a conversation, full of digressions and anecdotes. Doherty reflects on his life in science, what it means to be a scientist, the difficulty of explaining science to politicians and the importance of everyone understanding how science works. Doherty also does a little to burst the bubble of glory that surrounds the name "Nobel"—many Nobel laureates are so swamped with the consequences of their fame that they can't continue their life's work. Doherty, who is now affiliated with St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., has advice for the aspiring Nobel laureate that ranges from the profound (be prepared to fail) to the head-smackingly obvious (don't die before you get your accolades). Maybe what it means to win a Nobel is that you get your own soapbox: this is Peter Doherty's, which he uses sometimes well (to change the world) and sometimes less well (to examine pet peeves). (May)

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