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Hood, a son of the American West, was an unlikely candidate to transform biology. But with ferocious drive, he led a team at Caltech that developed the automated DNA sequencer, the tool that paved the way for the Human Genome Project. He captivated scientists with his almost religious fervor for the new biology enabled by the machines. Hood's brilliance, rebellion, enthusiasm, and ego earned him detractors as well as admirers. His management style, once described as "creative anarchy", alienated many. Some of his collaborators seethed, claiming he took too much credit. Fellow Caltech biologists charged that his empire building was out of control and ousted him as their chairman. A fraud in his lab made him consider, for a moment, quitting science.
Wooed by money from Bill Gates, Hood started over at the University of Washington, creating the world's first Department of Molecular Biotechnology. Seven years later, his impatience for rules drove him to depart. He left at age 61 to start his own Institute for Systems Biology. Would he finally achieve the ultimate application of the genome project - personalized medicine?
In Hood: Trailblazer of the Genomics Age, journalist Luke Timmerman zeroes in on a charismatic, controversial personality. Never-before-reported details are drawn from the scientist's confidential files, public records, and more than 150 interviews with Hood and his family, friends, collaborators, and detractors. The result is not just a revealing portrait of one of the most influential biologists of our time but a deeply human look at science itself.
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By Jean on 07-27-17
A Revealing Biography
This is an unauthorized biography of Leroy Edward Hood. The book opens with Hood resigning from the University of Washington in 1999. Bill Gates had lured Hood to the University in 1991 from Caltech. Hood went on to create the Institute for Systems Biology. The book then goes back to Hood’s early life and follows it forward including his education in the field of immunology. The author states Hood developed the DNA sequencing machine which revolutionized the Genomic field. Hood made tenure at Caltech at age 35 and became department head at age 41. While at Caltech Hood envisioned four machines that would create great benefit for biology and his staff went on to create these machines. Caltech has received 100s of millions of dollars from patent royalties on these machines. Timmerman points out that Hood was a leader in cross-disciplinary research. The author discusses the problem of fraud that occurred by a grad student in Hood’s laboratory as well as personality traits of Hood’s that caused problems with staff and colleagues. Timmerman won many scientific awards over the years.
The book is well written and meticulously researched. Timmerman is a biotech journalist so the book is fairly easy to read for the layman. The author points out the strengths and weaknesses of Hood’s and maintains his journalistic objectivity. Timmerman states that Hood had broad but shallow knowledge. Timmerman states Hood was the thinker or idea man and hired graduate students to do the daily chore of experimental work. The author states Hood was dedicated to innovation. The book is balanced between the man and his science.
The book is about eleven hours long. Xe Sands does a good job narrating the book. Sands is a voice-over artist and award-winning audiobook narrator.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
By B Ray on 03-22-18
I liked several things about this book. First, The author describes Hood’s childhood background which alluded to why he was so driven to succeed. Second, the author integrates Hood’s personality with his innovative nature, which was fascinating. Lastly, the technical science info and names of scientists and philanthropists we recognize brought the story to life. Thank you, Hood, for your contributions to science!