The Science of Human Perfection by Nathaniel Comfort
How Genes Became the Heart of American Medicine

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Synopsis

Almost daily we hear news stories, advertisements, and scientific reports that promise genetic medicine will make us live longer, enable doctors to identify and treat diseases before they start, and individualize our medical care. But surprisingly, a century ago eugenicists were making the same promises. The Science of Human Perfection traces the history of the promises of medical genetics and of the medical dimension of eugenics. The book also considers social and ethical issues that cast troublesome shadows over these fields. Keeping his focus on America, science historian Nathaniel Comfort introduces the community of scientists, physicians, and public health workers who have contributed to the development of medical genetics from the nineteenth century to today. He argues that medical genetics is closely related to eugenics, and indeed the two cannot be fully understood separately. He also carefully examines how the desire to relieve suffering and to improve ourselves genetically, though noble, may be subverted. History makes clear that as patients and consumers we must take ownership of genetic medicine, using it intelligently, knowledgeably, and skeptically, lest pernicious interests trump our own.
 

About Nathaniel Comfort

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Nathaniel Comfort is associate professor, Department of the History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, and a participant in The Oral History of Human Genetics project.
 
Published September 25, 2012 by Yale University Press. 336 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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Crick and Watson's discovery of the structure of DNA led to the unraveling of the genetic code and the mapping of the human genome, and the door opened for the development of new pharmaceuticals and the possibility of direct intervention to correct genetic diseases.

Jul 07 2012 | Read Full Review of The Science of Human Perfecti...

Publishers Weekly

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In In this intriguing history of medical genetics, Comfort, associate professor of the history of medicine at Johns Hopkins, makes a bold and rather uncomfortable assertion: that together with the com

Jul 23 2012 | Read Full Review of The Science of Human Perfecti...

Publishers Weekly

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In In this intriguing history of medical genetics, Comfort, associate professor of the history of medicine at Johns Hopkins, makes a bold and rather uncomfortable assertion: that together with the compassionate drive to reduce individual suffering, the eugenic drive to improve the biological traj...

Jul 23 2012 | Read Full Review of The Science of Human Perfecti...

Science News

A historian finds parallels between the 19th century eugenics movement and the rise of modern human genetics.

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