We’ve always loved the works of Walter Isaacson. Leonardo da Vinci. Einstein. Steve Jobs. He has established himself as the biographer of creativity, innovation and genius. Einstein was the genius of the revolution in physics, and Steve Jobs was the genius of the revolution in digital technology.
We are now on the cusp of a third revolution in science—a revolution in biochemistry that is capable of curing diseases, fending off viruses, and improving the human species. The genius at the center of Isaacson’s upcoming book, The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race (Simon & Schuster, $35), is American biochemist and Nobel prize winner Jennifer Doudna, who is considered one of the prime inventors of CRISPR, a system that can edit DNA. (CRISPR has been used in China to create “designer babies” that are immune from the AIDS virus and in the U.S. to cure patients of sickle cell anemia.)
Doudna is also a pioneer in discovering the structure of RNA, the molecule that powers CRISPR and also the revolutionary new COVID vaccines that were approved last month. As we roll up our sleeves to get the shots, this book explains how they work. Isaacson shares how the development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer and internet.
Now we are entering a life-science revolution: Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study the code of life—and all the moral dilemmas this brings.