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Virologist Explains Why This Book is a Must-Read!


"Lay readers, students and scientists alike, will find this book entertaining, informative, insightful and a genuine pleasure to read."


BOOK REVIEW 3-17-22:

Heroes and Scoundrels, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Nobel Prize in Medicine, Dr, Moira Dolan, MD, presents a concise, readable distillation of the research of each recipient of the Nobel Prize for the years 1951 to 1975.

She has diligently compiled information from numerous sources including respected scientific journals, historical chronicles, newspapers, websites and lay publications to describe the scientific achievements, aspects of personality and character, and background accomplishments that led to the Nobel award for each laureate.

Included are portrayals of the scientists’ human nature, both noble and ignoble. Dolan’s candor and her skill in summarizing the multiple aspects of the lives of these Nobel laureates; their philosophies, scientific contributions, and the times in which they lived is truly impressive.

Dolan provides an excellent review of the scientific achievements that this group of Nobel laureates made to advance knowledge in biology and medicine and to illuminate the stepping stones for future advances.

As an example, in the chapter “The Men (and Women) of DNA,” Ochoa describes DNA thus, “DNA, like a tape recording, carries a message in which there are specific instructions for a job to be done.”

And in Chapter 10, “The Wonder Boys,”Wilkins, Watson and Crick (1962) elucidate the structure of DNA laying the basis for current gene technologies and genetic engineering research of today; the investigations of Bloch and Lynen (1954) on mechanisms of cholesterol regulation is of interest to dieticians and physicians; Rous and Huggins (1966) contributed to the understanding of viruses and cancer; and Dulbecco, Temin and Baltimore (1975) described tumor virus interaction with the host cells own genes, thus leading to gene therapies and better understanding of cancer.

These are only a few of the many descriptions of the scientists and their research over this 25-year period covered in the book.

Many awardees in the group conducted their lives and research with scientific honesty, fairness and an intent to make the world a better place.

Some however, exhibited behaviors not condoned by the scientific community, or acceptable as human decency.

A few carried out unconscionable experimental procedures on human beings and animals.

And still others did not give credit to those who deserved it. To quote Francis Darwin, son of Charles Darwin, “In science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea first occurs.”

Some laureates enjoyed credit for the work of other researchers and colleagues, and ignored the contributions of their coinvestigators as in the 1962 Nobel Prize awarded to Wilkins, Watson and Crick in which Rosalind Franklin and Raymond Gosling were not included.

Lay readers, students and scientists alike, will find this book entertaining, informative, insightful and a genuine pleasure to read.

Her book provides a glimpse into what drives scientists’ creativity, and how the political and economic structures of their time, as well as the wars fought during those twenty-five years, impacted and influenced the personalities and scientific contributions of the laureates.

Dr. Moira Dolan is truly a gifted writer and medical historian.


Reviewed by: Marian L. Lewis, Ph.D. (Cell Biologist and Virologist)

M.S. University of Alabama 1968 (Microbiology)

Ph.D. University of Houston (Texas) 1979 (Biophysical Sciences)


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