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About Nessa Carey
Nessa Carey has a virology PhD from the University of Edinburgh and is a former Senior Lecturer in Molecular Biology at Imperial College, London. She has worked in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry for ten years. She lives in Bedfordshire and this is her first book.
And what else?
After leaving school I went to the University of Edinburgh to become a vet. This didn't last because I was allergic to fur, unable to think in 3D (not good for anatomy), quite bored and really rubbish at the course. So I dropped out and at Catford Job Centre, in amongst the ads for short order chefs (I couldn't cook) and van drivers (I couldn't drive), was one for a forensic scientist. And oddly enough I had always wanted to work at this end of crime - I must have been the only kid in the UK who had read a biography of Bernard Spilsbury by the age of 11.
So for five years I worked at the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Lab in London and studied part-time. I then realised that I loved academic science and went off to do a PhD. At the University of Edinburgh. In the veterinary faculty.
After that, it was the academic route of post-doc, Lecturer and Senior Lecturer. But I had a tendency to wander off on routes that intrigued me - degree in Immunology, PhD in Virology, post-doc in Human Genetics, academic position in Molecular Biology. Such wandering isn't necessarily the best idea in academia but the breadth of experience is really valued in industry. I've spent 10 years in biotech and have recently moved to the pharmaceutical sector.
And outside of work? I love birdwatching (no, I don't have a life-list), cycling, scavenging stuff from skips, and growing vegetables. I have a fantasy about one day having a smallholding (where I will starve to death if I really have to be self-sufficient) and I can't wait to write my next book. And I can now cook. And drive.
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In 2018 the world woke up to gene editing with a storm of controversy over twin girls born in China with genetic changes deliberately introduced by scientists – changes they will pass on to their own offspring.
Genetic modification (GM) has been with us for 45 years now, but the new system known as CRISPR or gene editing can manipulate the genes of almost any organism with a degree of precision, ease and speed that we could only dream of ten years ago.
But is it ethical to change the genetic material of organisms in a way that might be passed on to future generations? If a person is suffering from a lethal genetic disease, is it unethical to deny them this option? Who controls the application of this technology, when it makes ‘biohacking’ – perhaps of one’s own genome – a real possibility?
Nessa Carey’s book is a thrilling and timely snapshot of a cutting-edge technology that will radically alter our futures and the way we prevent disease.
'A focused snapshot of a brave new world.' - Nature
'A brisk, accessible primer on the fast-moving field, a clear-eyed look at a technology that is already driving major scientific advances - and raising complex ethical questions.' - Emily Anthes, Undark
Epigenetics can potentially revolutionize our understanding of the structure and behavior of biological life on Earth. It explains why mapping an organism's genetic code is not enough to determine how it develops or acts and shows how nurture combines with nature to engineer biological diversity. Surveying the twenty-year history of the field while also highlighting its latest findings and innovations, this volume provides a readily understandable introduction to the foundations of epigenetics.
Nessa Carey, a leading epigenetics researcher, connects the field's arguments to such diverse phenomena as how ants and queen bees control their colonies; why tortoiseshell cats are always female; why some plants need cold weather before they can flower; and how our bodies age and develop disease. Reaching beyond biology, epigenetics now informs work on drug addiction, the long-term effects of famine, and the physical and psychological consequences of childhood trauma. Carey concludes with a discussion of the future directions for this research and its ability to improve human health and well-being.
An exploration of the once-ignored portion of our DNA and the role it plays in our bodies, from the author of The Epigenetics Revolution.
For decades after the identification of the structure of DNA, scientists focused only on genes, the regions of the genome that contain codes to produce proteins. Other regions that make up 98 percent of the human genome were dismissed as "junk," sequences that serve no purpose. But researchers have recently discovered variations and modulations in this junk DNA that are involved with several intractable diseases. Our increasing knowledge of junk DNA has led to innovative research and treatment approaches that may finally ameliorate some of these conditions.
Junk DNA can play vital and unanticipated roles in the control of gene expression, from fine-tuning individual genes to switching off entire chromosomes. These functions have forced scientists to revisit the very meaning of the word “gene” and have engendered a spirited scientific battle over whether or not this genomic “nonsense” is the source of human biological complexity. Drawing on her experience with leading scientific investigators in Europe and North America, Nessa Carey provides a clear and compelling introduction to junk DNA and its critical involvement in phenomena as diverse as genetic diseases, viral infections, sex determination in mammals, and evolution. We are only now unlocking the secrets of junk DNA, and Nessa Carey's book is an essential resource for navigating the history and controversies of this fast-growing, hotly disputed field.
“Engaging, informative, and humorous.”—Sharon Y. R. Dent, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center“A cutting-edge, exhaustive guide to the rapidly changing, ever-more mysterious genome.”—New Scientist