This Year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry Honors a Revolution

It is my fate that in writing posts to illustrate the truth of the words in the title of this book, ie: “What Goes Around Comes Around,” that most of the examples cited are about negative outcomes befalling evil perpetrators. It is always a pleasure, therefore, to be presented with the other side of that equation, ie: that very good examples also happen all the time. The former gets more press though and so comes to our attention more readily. The case at hand is an exception, even if it does take a Nobel Prize for Chemistry to bring it to light, and what a light!

The article is about Dr. Jennifer Dudna’s receipt of “The Prize” for an invention that will transform the human race and usher in a brave new world of medical miracles. As the article points out, her high school guidance counselor told her that girls didn’t become scientists. To whit, she now becomes only the sixth woman to win or share the Nobel for Chemistry out of 184 honorees over the years.

She could have listened to her guidance counselor. I’m sure he meant well and believed what he said. Instead she listened to her own inner counselor, made her choices to follow a positive, uplifting path and stayed the course. We don’t have to win a Nobel Prize and cure disease to follow suite. All we have to do is make the right choices in our lives for ourselves and the ones we care about and need to protect.

The point is that “The Principle” illustrated by the title of this book worked the same for Dr. Dudna as it did for Bernie Madoff, Eliot Spitzer and everyone on that list. It is the same “Law of Cause & Effect” that is fundamental to every Law of Nature. It does not judge what is presented as “Cause,” it simply responds. You are the arbiter of what goes into that formula, but once set in motion by your choice the Principle determines the ultimate Effect. The “timing” is a subject for another day, but the outcome is inescapable.We see it easily in gravity, electricity, the turning of the tides, making an omelet, or planting a Petunia in the Fall. The Principle is easy to see in those examples. It is infinitely more complex to grasp in humans, but no less true.  Reading the book will give you a boost in the “why” and “how” it works!

The conundrum this book seeks to take on, is that even though we use the words in the title many times to explain the folly of some other person’s actions, we often fail to consider them for ourselves.  As has been said many times, “what is so easy to see in others is so difficult to see in ourselves”.  It is what leads people to make foolish and regrettable mistakes.

Enjoy this breathtaking tale, then if you haven’t done so please order the book or ebook on Amazon. For orders of more than ten copies please reach out to me.

Wishing you well on your journey and hoping this sheds some light!

~ Rob

This Year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry Honors a Revolution

With Crispr, two scientists turned a curiosity of nature into an invention that will transform the human race.

By 

Mr. Isaacson is the author of the forthcoming “The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race.”

 

Emmanuelle Charpentier, left, and Jennifer Doudna may have made the most important biological advance since the discovery of the structure of DNA.
Credit…Miguel Riopa/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled “The Double Helix” on her bed. She put it aside, thinking it was one of those detective tales she loved. When she read it on a rainy Saturday, she discovered she was right, in a way. As she sped through the pages, she became enthralled by the intense drama, filled with colorful characters, about ambition and competition in the pursuit of nature’s wonders. Even though her high school counselor told her girls didn’t become scientists, she decided she would.

She would help to make what the book’s author, James Watson, later told her was the most important biological advance since he and Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA. She worked with a brilliant Parisian biologist named Emmanuelle Charpentier to turn a curiosity of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as Crispr, it ushered in a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions.

For this accomplishment, on Wednesday they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. It is a recognition that the development of Crispr will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, the computer and the internet. Now we are entering a life-science era. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study the code of life. It will be a revolution that will someday allow us to cure diseases, fend off virus pandemics and (if we decide it’s wise) to design babies with the genetic features we want for them.

Crispr is especially relevant in this year of the coronavirus. The gene-editing tool that Dr. Doudna and Dr. Charpentier developed is based on a virus-fighting trick used by bacteria, which have been battling viruses for billions of years. In their DNA, bacteria develop clustered repeated sequences, known as Crisprs, that can remember and then destroy viruses that attack them. In other words, it’s an immune system that can adapt itself to fight each new wave of viruses — just what we humans need in an era that has been plagued by repeated viral epidemics.

The award is also a great testament to the growing power of women in the life sciences. When Rosalind Franklin made the images that helped James Watson and Francis Crick discover the structure of DNA, she became just a minor character in the early histories, and she died before she could share a Nobel Prize. Until now, only five women, beginning with Marie Curie in 1911, have won or shared the Nobel for chemistry, out of 184 honorees. When this year’s prize was announced, Dr. Charpentier said it would “provide a message specifically to young girls who would like to follow the path of science and to show them that in friendship women can also be awarded prizes.”

Crispr is now being used to treat sickle-cell anemia, cancers and blindness. And this year, Dr. Doudna and her research teams began exploring how Crispr could detect and destroy the coronavirus. “Crispr evolved in bacteria because of their long-running war against viruses,” Dr. Doudna told me. “We humans don’t have time to wait for our own cells to evolve natural resistance to this virus, so we have to use our ingenuity to do that. Isn’t it fitting that one of the tools is this ancient bacterial immune system called Crispr? Nature is beautiful that way.”

In November 2018, He Jiankui, a young Chinese scientist who had been to some of Dr. Doudna’s gene-editing conferences, shocked the world by using Crispr to help produce the world’s first “designer babies.” He edited human embryos to remove a gene that produces a receptor for H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. There was an immediate outburst of awe and then shock. After more than three billion years of evolution of life on this planet, one species (us) had developed the talent and temerity to grab control of its own genetic future. There was a sense that we had crossed the threshold into a whole new age, perhaps a brave new world, as when Adam and Eve bit into the apple or Prometheus snatched fire from the gods.

Crispr raises some tough moral questions. Should we edit our species to make us less susceptible to deadly viruses? In the midst of this coronavirus plague, most of us probably think that would be a wonderful boon. Right? Should we eliminate disorders such as Huntington’s, sickle-cell anemia and cystic fibrosis? That sounds good, too. And what about congenital deafness or blindness? Or being short? Or depressed? Hmm. How should we think about that? A few decades from now, if it becomes possible and safe, should we allow parents to enhance the IQ and physical strength of their kids? Should we let them decide eye color? Skin color? Height?

After helping to discover Crispr, Dr. Doudna has become a thought leader on these moral issues. That’s the main message we should take from this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry: New technologies can be a huge benefit to the human race, but in order to make sure they are used wisely, it’s important for people to understand them. By shining a light on gene editing, the Nobel committee is bringing a needed awareness of the wonders of nature — and of the technology that will increasingly determine how nature works.

And if you happen to be a fan of Louise L. Hay or other forward thinkers/authors like her, you may appreciate my new journal of life affirming aphorisms called Thoughts to Live By. They are meant to be a tool to start or end the day, or referenced to calm the raging beast when life events throw us off balance, ie: a possibly useful antidote during these challenging times.

What Goes Around available at Amazon


Kirkus Reviews, the gold-standard for independent & accurate reviews, has this to say about

What Goes Around Comes Around:

A stable, positive, non preachy, objective voice makes the book stand apart from others in the genre. The author gives readers not just points or principles to ponder, but real human experiences that demonstrate them. A successful guide that uses anecdotes to reveal powerful truths about life.

~ Kirkus Reviews

“A stable, positive, non-preachy, objective voice makes the manual stand apart from others in the genre.  A successful guide that uses anecdotes to reveal powerful truths about life.” – Kirkus Reviews

“I’ve read a number of books that focus on sharing a similar message, including “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, “The Answer” by John Assaraf & Murray Smith, “The Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfield, “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill, and I must say that I find Rob’s to be my favorite. – Sheryl Woodhouse, founder of Livelihood Matters LLC