Summary of A Life Decoded

My Genome: My Life

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A Life Decoded book summary
More than anyone else on the planet, Craig Venter possesses ultimate self-knowledge, right down to his own DNA.


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J. Craig Venter claims to be one of the “leading scientists of the 21st century,” and he is right. Venter is a brilliant visionary and pioneer in genomic research. He was first to decode the full DNA of a living organism, the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae. subsequently, Venter moved up significantly in scientific class by completing the DNA sequence of the human genome. Feverishly ambitious, he is now researching ocean genomes in hopes of finding new fuel sources and of becoming the first scientist to create artificial life. Venter does nothing by halves, hence his designation by Time magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people. Yet, in scientific circles, he has also earned some disdain as an egotistical “wild man of biotech.” Many scientists see his use of his own DNA in the human genome project as a shocking lack of scientific decorum. He comes across, in his own words, as narcissistic. This self-absorption, and his pervasive portrayal of himself as an altruistic purist constantly battling bureaucratic philistines, interferes with his story about how he cracked the human genome code. Clearly, it’s not easy being a genius, but it sure is interesting, and so getAbstract recommends Venter’s account of his scientific achievements.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Who J. Craig Venter is
  • Why his scientific accomplishments matter
  • What he is working on at present


A Quick Rise to the Top
As a young student in San Francisco during the 1950s and 1960s, J. Craig Venter was nobody special. His grades were average and sometimes below par. He foiled his Army draft notice by joining the US Navy, where he became a medical corpsman. He served a tour of duty...
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About the Author

J. Craig Venter is a leading scientist and a pioneer in genomic research. He is president of the J. Craig Venter Institute, a multidisciplinary, genomic-focused research facility.

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