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The Epigenetics Revolution

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,563 ratings  ·  323 reviews
At the beginning of this century enormous progress had been made in genetics. The Human Genome Project finished sequencing human DNA. It seemed it was only a matter of time until we had all the answers to the secrets of life on this planet. The cutting-edge of biology, however, is telling us that we still don't even know all of the questions. How is it that, despite each c ...more
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2011)
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Frank Boase Without a doubt, her enthusiasm is perhaps equaled by her knowledge.
I found this book to open a door into another view of the world.
I would suggest th…more
Without a doubt, her enthusiasm is perhaps equaled by her knowledge.
I found this book to open a door into another view of the world.
I would suggest the next step in evolutionary awareness.(less)

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Mario the lone bookwolf
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0-biology
It seems to be time to rehabilitate Lamarck and Junk DNA.

As if the vagueness in the debate of the priority of genes or education was not complicated enough now, with the influence of technology, nutrition, mental health, and general living environment, a third pillar is added. How strong influences on human evolution will likely be is influenced by various factors, such as how active the genes are and how susceptible a human being is for the effects of education or the tribal culture around him.

Since the Watson-Crick model of our double helical structure DNA in 1953 and the foundations of the central dogma of molecular biology (DNA-RNA-protein) were established, major advances in genetics have taken place. In the year 2003, the Human Genome Project finished an accurate and complete sequence of the human genome which became available to scientists and researchers (and for you if you wish) to download at the NHGRI page. Knowledge of the complete sequence allows the identification of all
Mar 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Nessa Carey is an active researcher, and an excellent writer. She explains cogently why there certainly is a "revolution" occurring now in genetics, and gives us a very good introductory guide to the subject of epigenetics. There is much more to genetic inheritance than simply the "DNA" that is found in our cells. Carey shows many examples of epigenetics at work. One very basic example is the fact that despite every cell nucleus having "identical" DNA, our cells specialize for each organ in the ...more
Brian Clegg
Oct 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There have been lots of popular science books about genetics and evolution, and that's fine - but there really hasn't been anywhere near enough coverage of epigenetics, which is why Nessa Carey's book is so welcome. Over the last 30 years or so it has become increasingly obvious that the idea of genes coding for proteins - the basic concept of genetics - is only a starting point for the way DNA acts to provide control software for the body's development. There is also RNA that is coded by 'junk' ...more
Sep 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biology
Carey explains how epigenetics makes two people different who have exactly the same genes. Take her example of the identical twin with schizophrenia. One might think if one identical twin has schizophrenia, the other one will. Not necessarily, only a 50% chance. But if not due to genes why is the chance so high given only 1% or fewer occurrences in the population as a whole. The difference is due to epigenetics.

Epigenetics operates through mechanisms that alter the expression of a gene without c
H.A. Leuschel
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was initially drawn to this fascinating book because I have an identical twin and always come to wonder in what ways we are so very similar and in others different. I can confirm after reading the book though that 'two things are genetically identical, but phenotypically variable' and that 'an organism continues to be influenced by an event long after this initiating event has occurred'. So knowing someone's genetic code does not tell us everything about how that code will 'express' its inform ...more
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
DNA --> mRNA --> proteins --> you understand life! Well, it was never that simple but now it's not even an accurate description of all the functions of DNA. Genes exist in binary "off or on" states. Wrong! Many genes effectively have dimmer switches that allow a continuous spectrum of activation from fully off to some maximum rate of expression. 98% of our DNA is "junk." Wrong! Only 2% codes for proteins but various parts of the rest are now understood to serve several functions, from acting as ...more
Oct 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Given that very cell in our body contains exactly the same DNA, how is it possible that so many of our tissues are highly specialised to perform totally different functions?

The answer is epigenetics, which is the study of how the same DNA can be expressed in different ways. Sections of DNA can be switched on or off. They can have their 'volume' turned up or down.

To clarify this phenomenon, the author draws an analogy from theatre. The Royal Shakespeare Company would produce a classical performa
Majd Abdulghani
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction

Reading this book was a mind-blowing journey.
What I love most about it is that although it delves deep into specifics, all it requires is a basic understanding of cell biology. The author builds her way up from the basics to the tiniest details. Even better, every time something from a previous chapter is mentioned, she explains it in brief again so that the reader doesn't have to go back to that chapter in order to remember what she's talking about.
All this makes it easy to pick up The Epig
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of this was too detailed for me, but I enjoyed it anyway. It started out by blowing away my definition of epigenetics which I had wrongly ascribed only to agents outside the organism. It includes those plus those within the organism - anything that changes the expression of DNA. That's a really big deal & obvious in retrospect. How does a skin cell differentiate from a liver cell without it? Duh.

Throughout the book, Carey gives great examples. She doesn't limit herself to observable phenome
Jan 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Epigenetics has been a fascinating idea for me for years. I must've been about sixteen or seventeen, and there was a program on it on TV. And until the marks of my biology AS level came back, I was determined to become a geneticist and work on this kind of thing. Then I got a B in biology but shocked my teachers by getting full marks on more than one module of English Lit (a thing they didn't think possible for one module, let alone three), so my fate was sealed. But the interest remained.

So, un
This is my first book on epigenetics and it’s fascinating how different situations, actions, or experiences in our lives can affect our cells. Events that happened to our parents, grandparents, and so forth can also affect our cells in ways science is just starting to understand. I liked how Nessa Carey laid out the book. She starts with a history and some examples of epigenetics. She then discusses cells and how they work and how epigenetics is contributing to understanding diseases such as can ...more
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
This was fascinating and at times wildly exciting. I had started with the audiobook but somewhere around Chap Three I realized it was getting beyond me, and I found it necessary to switch to print to slow down and think (there are images/figures, acronyms, and specialized vocabulary). Published in 2011 but seems a good survey of research to that point, so I feel a bit more prepared to understand all the groundbreaking and revelatory new studies in epigenetics. I am in awe.
Nick Davies
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This was a really interesting read. Carey aims to discuss epigenetics - i.e. the molecular basis for processes that act in tandem with our genes to influence our biology. This is a really good introduction to the subject, and also does explore a large number of key current areas of research, including discussions about cancer, depression, aging and genetic variation. I was possibly a little unfortunate that I have a pretty sound understanding of genetics and biochemistry from when I was at unive ...more
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
The Human Genome project completed in 2000 was only an opening salvo for biology and medicine. Sequencing human DNA is like figuring out the script of a Shakespeare play. The script is a major part of the play but it is big step from script to actual production. DNA is the script and the interplay of DNA, the organism and the environment is the full on production on stage. This part of Biology is called epigenetics which takes the script of DNA and plays it out on the stage of the organism and ...more
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Carey provides a clear and easy to understand explanation of how epigenetics works and how it is forcing us to rewrite the theory of evolution, giving the environment a larger role and the gene itself a smaller one.

Essential for anyone who wants to keep up to date with the theory of evolution.
Morgan Blackledge
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good solid science writing.

Nearing its expiration date but still fresh (enough).

Informative and engaging.

Nice primer on this important subject.

Good explanation of DNA methylation and histone acetylation. Key processes in epigenetics.

Oddly uninspired to write anything more about the book.

Let’s just say, it’s a little better than ok 👍

Get it if you’re so inclined.

But don’t expect to be wowed 🤩
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Even though the title of the book contains the word 'epigenetics', this was just the book I needed to read to make me understand how genetics itself truly works. We've all heard of the grandest molecule of all - the double helix of DNA. We all talk about genes, chromosomes and even stem cells. But I would guess that most biologically-lay people have little inkling of how genes result into fully formed bodies. We are told that DNA is to a body what a blue-print is to a building. Well, after readi ...more
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013, non-fiction, 2012
Clear and concise, this book hit just the spot I wanted it to. It was a welcome book in the sense that though, at times, it felt a little swamped with names and terms (which I think if taking your time to read (which I did) it's easy to keep on top of) it was a relatively 'uncluttered' book; most scientific terms had an analogy to link them to or something similar which made them much easier to understand.

The actual topic of epigenetics is absolutely fascinating. It can explain such diverse phen
Rob Adey
Not a proper review as I didn't read the whole thing.

This is a weird pop science book. Carey includes some very basic and unnecessary analogies based of the 'imagine RNA is Baz Luhrmann's shooting script for Romeo and Juliet' etc. that seem to be pitched at readers who, I'm pretty sure, aren't that likely to be picking up a book with 'epigenetics' in the title. But then there's a bunch of descriptions of epigenetic effects featuring complicated cascades of gene names and so on, after a few of w
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I found this to be an enjoyable book, written in an engaging style which draws the reader into each chapter. It contains a lot of information, some quite detailed. Although I'm a scientist by profession, this was a new area for me and reading this work has taught me a lot about epigenetics and its importance in the functioning of life. Much of the material was very thought provoking and eye-opening.

Each chapter covers a different area of epigenetics and starts off with a simple introduction to t
Bastian Greshake Tzovaras
Sep 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The book gives a solid overview over the early history of Epigenetics as well as the known mechanisms, like histone modification and DNA methylation. The phenomenon of Genomic Imprinting also gets its fair share.

Additionally many of the experiments that established our current knowledge on Epigenetics are described, as well as the potential medical applications. Biologists that are already kinda firm with the general topic may not learn that much new stuff, but I discovered some great experimen
Paul R. Fleischman
Apr 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is interesting and notably competent science writing. The proper audience for this book is someone with specific interests in genetics, and biology.
The word, “epigenetics” refers to all those ways in which influences are imposed on the genetic codes in DNA in our cells. Unfortunately, as Nessa Carey reminds us on page, 101, the word has been used in many different ways, and therefore a book on epigenetics ends up resembling a book called, “Many Topics About Genetics and Biology.” On
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
The way Nessa Carey uses analogies allows people introduced to this branch of biology a good understanding of it. It answers the 'how' to basic questions and proves that Lamarck's theory wasn't incredibly off, something I never would've thought to be true.
A fascinating subject. And the author worked very hard to make it approachable. Metaphors, examples, diagrams, revisiting prior subjects and adding complexities. Which is presumably why some of the material only required three re-reads to maybe get and hold what was being presented. I think I walked away with a better understanding of the subject, but I'm really not positive. Certainly the last epigenetics I was exposed to, at an OMSI science pub talk, seemed to be more focused on junk dna - and ...more
Dec 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
I found this book very interesting, although, as a non-specialist, I found quite large parts of it difficult to understand.

it's a few years now since this book was published. Well it's five years actually, but I think within the field that it's describing that's an immensely long time. I'd be interested to find out what progress has been made between then and 2016. Maybe following this up in a scientific magazine would be the best way to do it? Unless anybody knows of a book that they can rec
Tadas Talaikis
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biology
Some news are pretty old. For example, I had known Sirtris Pharmaceuticals from their start. Yes, 10+ years ago was interested in life extension technologies, spent lots of money on various idiotic experiments with myself, bought some FDA-unapproved biotech shit from Vanuatu, etc. OK, back to Sirtris, in theory, it sounds cool, they created 5000x stronger compounds than resveratrol, don't recall their names now. So what? In-vitro doesn't mean you can do it in-vivo, so after Glaxo (yet another op ...more
Jonathan Hockey
Feb 26, 2020 rated it liked it
A lot of useful information and good attempts made to focus on the purely observational phenomena and not get caught up on parroting Darwinian theoretical dogma, that makes many mainstream books on biological and evolutionary topics so off putting to me. The book even suggests in some of the chapters areas where epigenetic influences and modifications can be inherited, opening up the debate about Lamarkian inheritance. To my mind, it is obvious there are going to be such factors as these, and th ...more
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliantly written book, full of fascinating insights into both, the processes of scientific endeavour, and those of life. It is, inescapably, full of molecular formulae, other diagrams and the jargon of science. Nevertheless, it will be accessible to the interested and persistent lay person who will have revealed before them the amazing story of how the genetic plan for the unfolding of our lives can be dramatically modified by forces external to ourselves, some within our control bu ...more
Jurij Fedorov
Dec 09, 2014 rated it liked it
First half is great and informative. Second half is only informative for people who already know a lot about different genetic mechanisms and their names.

A lot of interesting ideas and science. There is a lot to epigenetics that you probably don't know about and it's one of the most interesting scientific fields to follow in our age as new great discoveries are made every year. The main message from this book is: food can change how some specific genes are activated/deactivated. And this eff
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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 worked in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry for thirteen years and now splits her professional time between providing consultancy services to some of the UK's leading research institutions, and training people around the world in how to create ...more

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12 likes · 7 comments
“Our brains contain one hundred billion nerve cells (neurons). Each neuron makes links with ten thousand other neurons to form an incredible three dimensional grid. This grid therefore contains a thousand trillion connections - that's 1,000,000,000,000,000 (a quadrillion). It's hard to imagine this, so let's visualise each connection as a disc that's 1mm thick. Stack up the quadrillion discs on top of each other and they will reach the sun (which is ninety-three million miles from the earth) and back, three times over.” 8 likes
“But DNA isn’t really like that. It’s more like a script. Think of Romeo and Juliet, for example. In 1936 George Cukor directed Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer in a film version. Sixty years later Baz Luhrmann directed Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in another movie version of this play. Both productions used Shakespeare’s script, yet the two movies are entirely different. Identical starting points, different outcomes.” 5 likes
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