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Genentech – The Beginning of Biotech
Author: Sally Smith Hughes
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Science historian Sally Smith Hughes presents an historical account of Genentech – Genetic Engineering Technology Inc – the company that founded the biotechnology industry.
Drawing from interviews with early biotech players, including co-founder biochemist Herbert Boyer and venture capitalist Robert Swanson, the author sheds new light on how strong personalities affect the advancement of science.
The content integrates scientific, corporate, contextual and personal factors, and balances these against the risks involved in the development of biotechnology. Beginning in the 1970s, the invention of recombinant DNA technology laid the foundations of genetic engineering.
The author skilfully reveals the practical, day-to-day, hands-on roles played by venture capitalists focused on fiscal gain and scientists focused on scientific breakthroughs. She highlights the tough-minded business deals, laboratory struggles and buccaneering strategies that fuelled the company’s success.
This is a fascinating read for those with an interest in biotechnology and the billion-dollar genetic engineering company that became an overnight darling of Wall Street.
Reviewer: Valerie McGurk
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