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Catherine Brady. Elizabeth Blackburn and the Story of Telomeres: Deciphering the Ends of DNA. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007. 424 pp. $29.95 cloth.
Reviewed by Audra J. Wolfe
Elizabeth Blackburn is best known to the American public as a critic of the Bush administration’s science policies who was forced off the President’s Council on Bioethics for objecting to its moratorium on stem cell research. Molecular biologists and biochemists, on the other hand, know her as a pioneer in the study of telomeres, the repeat sequence of DNA that appears at the end of chromosomes and plays an important role in preserving the integrity of genetic information across generations of cell life. Brady’s respectful and laudatory biography, which is based on extensive interviews with Blackburn and her colleagues, traces the arc of Blackburn’s career thus far, with emphasis on Blackburn’s trials as a leading female scientist in a male-dominated world. Brady’s crystal-clear discussion of the science and significance of telomeric research is a highlight of this account of the work of a remarkable scientist.
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