Dr. Euan Angus Ashley is a professor at Stanford and has been working at the forefront on genomic medicine for many years. The Genome Odyssey details the evolution of that work, and the gains we have made in understanding the human genome over the same period. He does this through a series of case presentations, where unlocking genetic factors was the key to diagnosis or treatment. Occasionally I would have liked a break in case studies and private industrial development history in favor of more science, but overall this was a solid and enjoyable book. Dr. Ashley has avoided overly technical jargon and details without condescending to the reader. He also has a relatively brief section discussing COVID-19, the vaccine development, and implications for medicine moving forward. The one thing that I felt was missing from the book was a discussion about the privacy and ownership of data issues. While it's undeniable that massive genetic databases are crucial to our understanding of the human genome and its use in medicine, there are outstanding questions. Who owns that data? The sequencing company? The individual? There is some discussion of the burgeoning field of genetic counselors and ethicists, and how much is too much for someone to know. I get more concerned about how much is too much for a company to know about me, more from the private, industrial sector than healthcare providers.
In short, a great read about the exciting opportunities of genetic medicine, but glosses over some of the questions that I'd like to hear more about.