Daily Archives: December 24, 2010

** The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

The Emperor of All Maladies is a vast tome that covers the history of cancers and its many attempted cures from gruesome descriptions of anesthesia-free surgery to modern-day miracles of molecular drug design. Along the way we meet the often eccentric scientists and physicians who contributed to cures or other advances, some of whom seem to be quite unconcerned by the side effects of their attempts, and others who fake their results. We also see how the vagaries of public funding can reinforce misguided directions for research, and how crucial protocol and statistics can be when measuring progress. After all, since many cancers are treatable but not curable, success often means more people with cancer (since they live longer) rather than fewer. It all ends, of course, with kinases, the beauties of which I have heard through my daughter the chemist.

So lots of interesting stuff, lots of details, lots of names and dates — a little too many for my taste.

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