A Magical Mystery Tour (of Personal Genomics)

Anyone looking for last-minute Christmas gift (or a belated Hanukkah gift, or a very early gift for Flag Day) for a science lover would be well-advised to consider Here Is a Human Being, by my fellow PLoGger Misha Angrist.

Here Is a Human Being chronicles Angrist’s experience as one of the 10 participants in the Personal Genome Project, in which his entire genome was sequenced and posted online for all to see. Along the way, Angrist provides loads of relevant context, charting the rise of personal genomics and providing a glimpse of our collective genomic future.

It’s a great read, and Angrist, who trained as a genetic counselor, is an excellent guide, informative and informal and unflinchingly open about his life and emotions. And anyone who reads Misha’s blog knows that he’s got a great sense of humor. For instance, in the book’s very second paragraph, Angrist reveals that he has a potbelly, which, he says, is “probably a sign of insulin resistance and determined by genes acting in concert with ice cream.”

And the book is filled with zingers like these:

“While some bioethicists have argued that returning genetic research results  to subjects is a good idea, it’s not clear how many feel that way. (Some have issued ‘consensus’ statements, but as far as I can tell, while putting out consensus statements is a favorite pastime for bioethicists , it tends to correlate poorly with actual consensus.)”

I heartily recommend Here Is a Human Being; it’s a wild and eye-opening ride.

Image: HarperCollins

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One Response to A Magical Mystery Tour (of Personal Genomics)

  1. David says:

    Great points, Emily – I really enjoy Misha’s writing because of how he injects his personality and dry wit into this complex and reflective story.

    I’m proud to say that I paid full retail price for it at one of the best independent book stores in North Carolina.

    All of you here are such great writers. Thanks for supporting our community and promoting this work to your readers!