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The Compatibility Gene

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3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  149 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
A tiny cluster of our genes holds the key to how we combat disease, how our brains are wired, how attractive we are, even how likely we are to reproduce. In The Compatibility Gene, one of our foremost immunologists tells the remarkable history of these genes' discovery and the unlocking of their secrets. Davis shows how the compatibility gene is radically transforming our ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 28th 2014 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2013)
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Nikki
Jul 27, 2015 Nikki rated it liked it
I read this in a bit of a piecemeal fashion, due to holidays, so my impressions of it are probably a little more scattered than usual. It’s basically a book which combines immunology and genetics, and even some neurology, to discuss the way certain genes work in humans. Since that’s right up my street, I found this fascinating, although I found some chapters really slow going.

One thing I’m not 100% a fan of is the personal details about some of the scientists, because it’s not really relevant. W
...more
Robyn
Jul 27, 2015 Robyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
A short, compelling look at the immune system's major histocompatibility complex. Davis effectively explains how the immune system recognises 'self' and 'non-self,' and thus effectively identifies disease within the body (or, on occasion, fails to). He also looks at the other ways that the 'compatibility genes' affect our body; for instance, there is an interesting section on the impact of the immune system on pregnancy. He also details the major scientific achievements that led to these ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
Dec 23, 2014 Cassandra Kay Silva rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Part two entitled "The Frontier of Compatibility Gene Research" saved this book for me. Part one and part three were terrible. Part one comprised a lot of back story on the who's who of this particular gene research. I couldn't care less who did it or how they got there. Tell me what the research results were and how it impacts society. Part three was equally frustrating as it was supposed to be the popular science connection to our world and how this impact things we might be interested in such ...more
Kate
Oct 29, 2016 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2016
A nice historical summary of the pathway to our current understanding of the MHC genes and their role in various aspects of human biology. Fairly easy to read,
.
Brian Clegg
Jun 29, 2014 Brian Clegg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some of the best popular science books tell us as much about the people as the science, and that is the approach taken by Daniel Davis. In exploring the ‘compatibility gene’ (or more accurately, the ‘compatibility genes’ – I don’t know why it’s singular in the title). He takes us on a voyage of discovery through the key steps to identifying the small group of genes that seem to contribute to making that individual more or less compatible with other people, whether on the level of transplants or ...more
Crosby
Oct 06, 2014 Crosby rated it liked it
The author opens the book by stating "essentially, this is the story of a few human genes and how we discovered what these genes do" and he closes his book in the final chapter by saying "the fact that we differ is what's important; the way our species has evolved to survive disease requires us to be different". In between, his story delves into a set of fascinating genes that we all have but nevertheless have in different forms. These genes, called HLA genes in humans, are responsible for ...more
William
The British author brings the perspective of a practising immunological scientist to humanity's ongoing struggles to identify and understand the mechanisms of the human immune system, from Medawar, the field's conceptual founder six decades ago, to those of present day scientists.

Learn why the T-cells of an organ recipient will not recognize and attack as "non-self" a new organ if the donor has the same human leukocyte antigen (HLA) proteins as his own (the meaning of "compatible" donor). Disco
...more
Karen
Sep 01, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an easy to understand and interesting look at the history of the study of compatibility genes. While Davis occasionally spends a little too much time talking about the personalities and personal lives of some of the scientists who made the major discoveries, he does a good job of explaining what compatibility genes are and the many different functions that they have in our bodies in terms that are easy to understand without being condescending. Of course the most interesting studies on ...more
Christy
Three stars might be a little harsh, but it was only because I was hoping this book would delve further into how we fight disease and autoimmune disorders. Davis is a good writer, and the insight into how scientific research is done and the roles that the ego and personality of the scientists play is interesting, but I felt that it just skims the surface. In short, DO read this book. It'll wet your appetite for more.
Lauren
Jun 12, 2015 Lauren rated it it was amazing
A good book on the importance of HLA molecules and the overall importance of that part of the immune system that is meant for a general audience. I really liked his writing style, and I learned a lot about a subject area I haven't directly studied before. I really liked his note to scientists, and the last section was also very funny.
EagleOverTheSea
Written in simple English with good examples to explain concepts even to people who do not have a background in Genetics or other branches of Biology. Explains what makes each individual unique, in terms of how the immune system recognises a particular cell as part of self or a foreign body and all its implications on human life beyond fighting infections.
Eric
Apr 13, 2015 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read for those who want to know how your body fights disease and some of the history of how we know what we know about it.

Dan has provided a well written and easy to understand book for the lay public.
Rachel
Jan 28, 2014 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Concise, interesting, with complex concepts simplified enough for a non-science major to appreciate. I really liked learning about the personal lives and quirks of some of the top modern day scientists, as well as their journeys that lead to their major accomplishments.
Lukas Vermeer
May 09, 2015 Lukas Vermeer rated it really liked it
Succinct and compelling. Part interesting science, part great storytelling. Pop-science at its best.
Kathy Gardner
Oct 14, 2014 Kathy Gardner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-tech
Excellent reading for even a non-scientific reader like me. It was understandable, engaging and interesting.
Tom
Oct 05, 2015 Tom rated it liked it
Interesting exploration of applied genetics in immune systems, reproduction, pregnancy and more. Not as engaging as I'd hoped, but most of it's easy to read.
Robert
Robert rated it it was amazing
Sep 06, 2014
Ellenour
Ellenour rated it it was amazing
Apr 01, 2016
Daniel M.
Sep 10, 2014 Daniel M. rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Jim Watt
Jim Watt rated it really liked it
Aug 26, 2014
Marjorie
Marjorie rated it it was amazing
May 21, 2015
Marc
Marc rated it it was amazing
Nov 14, 2016
Gavin Brown
Gavin Brown rated it liked it
Jul 21, 2015
Valpuri
Valpuri rated it liked it
Jul 06, 2015
A.p.
A.p. rated it really liked it
Mar 29, 2015
yini
yini rated it liked it
Nov 07, 2013
Daniel M.
Apr 27, 2014 Daniel M. rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Abram Jamal
Abram Jamal rated it really liked it
Apr 30, 2016
Shamir Kansakar
Shamir Kansakar rated it really liked it
Jun 09, 2015
Richardmw2
Richardmw2 rated it it was amazing
Jul 09, 2014
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