Digital Code of Life

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Book: Digital Code of Life: How Bioinformatics is Revolutionizing Science, Medicine, and Business. Glyn Moody. John Wiley, 2004

Summary of Content

"In his new book of nearly 400 pages, Glyn Moody, also the author of Rebel Code that described the open-source movement and the Linux revolution, offers a similar journalistic chronicle of bioinformatics in the past two decades.

This book consists of 14 chapters. Narrating as a third person, the author unfolds episodic stories behind key past bioinformatics moments in each chapter.

Chapter 1 reviews the significance of Watson and Crick’s discovery of the DNA double helix structure.

Chapters 2–4 recount the creations of GenBank, NCBI, the BLAST software, major genome sequencing centres, and the genomics company giant Celera.

Chapters 5 and 6 examine the divided views between the public Human Genome Project (HGP) and Celera over wholegenome shotgun sequencing, genome data access, scientific publication and patent right issues in their ‘tied’ rivalry to completely sequence the human genome.

Chapter 7 describes the ongoing genome sequencing efforts of other organisms.

Chapter 8 describes the investigation of human genome variations by the public SNP Consortium and by a successful Icelandic company – deCODE.

Chapter 9 examines scientific opportunities and bioethical dilemmas in genetic testing.

Chapters 10–12 each explores a postgenome large-scale biology topic: transcriptomics, structural genomics and proteomics.

Chapter 13 raises the scientific hopes of using systems biology to integrate data from all sources and study the effects of perturbations to the whole cellular machinery.

Chapter 14 concludes the book by summarising promising genomics technologies for treating human infectious diseases and cancers." (


Jake Chen:

"The book presents readers with a comprehensive and coherent picture of the still ongoing bioinformatics revolution. Its writing materials come mostly from recent papers and editorials published in Science and Nature magazines. Remaining as much of an objective observer as he did while writing Rebel Code, the author does not attempt to exude first-person opinions upon readers. Instead, he carefully chooses speech excerpts, quotes and synopses of research articles to guide readers’ minds, in which the writings of scientific fervours, business misjudgments and witty criticisms often interweave into vivid scenes of the historical moments." (