All too often, stories about scientific achievements lack a human touch, as if the researchers were secondary to their discoveries. Gitschier brings the researchers back into focus in this series of interviews. That is not to say that she relegates the research to the background, but she does remind readers that real people conduct that research.
The book is a collection of interviews...Each interview is essentially a transcribed conversation, and as such, gives the reader the feeling of sitting in on an evening gathering among friends. The researchers reveal not only the background behind their discoveries, but some of the details of their training and early years that will prove inspirational to scientists at all stages of their careers.
People do the science, and their stories add the oohs and aahs to the results. Sometimes they even help us to get a better grasp of their ideas. Jane Gitschier, a UCSF Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, looked into these stories by conducting 22 interviews with people engaged in genetics. Through their anecdotes, written down in Speaking of Genetics, we get to know the human side of important events which took place over the last decades....the book offers the opportunity to immerse...into the events and eureka moments behind the big results....Jane Gitschier...makes good use of both her knowledge as a human geneticist and her interest in peoples stories, conferring on the book an optimal combination of science and personal life. Her enthusiasm is contagious.
The usefulness of this volume lies in gathering these transcripts into a single, organized source. This collection could be valuable to researchers as motivational, or at least intriguing, stories of discovery or they could be employed to inspire interest in new biology students. In either case, the personal touch added by hearing from the researchers themselves conveys an energy and excitement often lacking in scientific publications. This appears to have been the goal of the author, as she explicitly states that her aim was to get other scientists to think about and discuss their own stories of scientific discovery.
The Quarterly Review of Biology
Jane Gitschier is an experienced molecular geneticist who has wide-ranging links with scientists internationally...Her interview series is thus very different from others, and well suited to appearing in a book. Having all the interviews done by a single person undoubtedly contributes to making a highly readable and cohesive book, as does her palpable enthusiasm for the work involved...