Invisible Frontiers: The Race to Synthesize a Human Gene

Stephen S. Hall, Author, Morgan Entrekin, Editor Atlantic Monthly Press $19.95 (334p) ISBN 978-0-87113-147-8
Drawing on scores of interviews with participants, science writer Hall describes the 19761978 ""race''begun when the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly organized a recombinant DNA symposium of scientists in Indianapolisbetween a Harvard biogenetics lab, headed by scientist Walter Gilbert, and two San Franciscoarea labs, one calling itself City of Hope (eventually funded by a tiny company called Genentech) and the other a William Rutter-Howard Goodman team ultimately backed by Eli Lilly. The goal: to make insulin in mass-market quantities by using recombinant DNA techniquessplicing a human gene with bacteria. This is demanding reading for biochemistry novices, but the drama is double-track: scientists plus entrepreneurs. In late 1978, the City of Hope team won out (``the bacteria went bonkers''), while the unlucky Harvard/Biogen lab found gremlins in its ``soup.'' A new era of Big Buck science? The jury is still out. First serial to California magazine. (August 26)
Reviewed on: 08/04/1987
Release date: 08/01/1987

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Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-19-515159-6
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