Introducing Meet's Biotech Book Club!

Introducing Meet's Biotech Book Club!

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Finding that you have a little more time on your hands during lockdown? Looking for an activity to help relieve stress? Or just to learn something new?

There's nothing quite like unwinding with a good book. 

And working in an industry as dynamic as Life Sciences there's a wealth of stories to delve into. From the history of specific companies to the growth of Big Data & AI, it's a fascinating industry! 

So, we want to take this opportunity to share some of the best books about Life Sciences - introducing #TheBiotechBookClub.

Join us for weekly recommendations that reveal the nuances of the industry, the innovation that captures imaginations and the developments that save lives. We hope they'll help overcome any boredom and offer you a different, unexpected perspective! 

To kick us off, it seemed fitting to have a book about beginnings…

Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech by Sally Smith Hughes

Genentech was the first biotechnology company to go public on October 14, 1980; raising $35 million on its IPO and leading the way for a biotech revolution that has defined the industry ever since. Sally Smith Hughes uses Genentech's fascinating story to contextualise the rise of biotechs in the early 1980s. 

Founded by venture capitalist Robert A. Swanson and biochemist Herbert Boyer, Genentech pioneered recombinant DNA technology (or for the less technical of us, genetic engineering). They used proteins called restriction enzymes to cut bacterial DNA and insert fragments of foreign DNA. Using this technique, the company managed to produce the human version of the hormone insulin, Humulin, in 1979. After figuring out how to grow recombinant bacteria on an industrial scale and how to harvest the insulin they produce, it was time to bring the recombinant insulin to the market. In 1982, Humulin was licensed to Eli Lilly and became the first marketable product created through recombinant DNA technology.

Although the book was published in 2011, after the 2009 acquisition of Genentech by Roche for $46.3 billion, the majority of the narrative focuses on the events between 1972 to 1980. Smith Hughes draws on interviews with key players within Genentech and the wider industry to detail the company's creation, precarious youth, and immense success. 

"Genentech tells the story of biotechnology as it is not often told, as a risky and improbable entrepreneurial venture that had to overcome a number of powerful forces working against it".

What makes this such an engaging read is its focus on the people. By injecting human touches into the story (such as office parties and silly pranks), Smith Hughes paints a full picture of the company, not just the science or business behind its success. 

You can order or download a copy for Kindle here.

Join in and send any recommendations or thoughts to georgina.collings@peoplewithchemistry.com. 

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