Whether classified as regulators of inflammation, metabolism, or other physiological functions, a distinctive set of molecules enables the human body to convey information from one cell to another. An in-depth primer on the molecular mediators that coordinate complex bodily processes, Body Messages provides fresh insight into how biologists first identified this special class of molecules and the consequences of their discovery for modern medicine.
Focusing on proteins that regulate inflammation and metabolism—including the cytokines and adipokines at the core of her own research—Giamila Fantuzzi examines the role body messages play in the physiology of health as well as in the pathology of various illnesses. Readers are introduced to different ways of conceptualizing biomedical research and to the advantages and pitfalls associated with identifying molecules beginning with function or structure. By bringing together areas of research usually studied separately, Fantuzzi stresses the importance of investigating the body as a whole and affirms the futility of trying to separate basic from clinical research. Drawing on firsthand interviews with researchers who made major contributions to the field, Body Messages illustrates that the paths leading to scientific discovery are rarely direct, nor are they always the only routes available.
From the way our brain thinks to how our body fights germs, the wonders of human life are fundamentally about how our cells and tissues interact. This book is a tour de force about how this communication happens. Examined with passion and insight, a wondrous and important story unfolds about how the human body really works above and beyond the level of individual genes and cells.
The scholarship in the book is truly impressive. The interviews are revealing portraits of accomplished scientists. The writing style is lucid and purged of jargon so as to be intelligible to non-scientists. All in all this is a valuable and eminently readable record of the birth and development of a field that has had a dramatic impact on human health.
Reading this work will keep the reader current on a substantial number of recent, important studies on cell-to-cell information transfer. The reader will enjoy the personal essays and then want to read more about the scientific contributions. It is fascinating to find a work that is genuinely informative and also a joy to read. No matter the nature of the reader’s background, he or she will learn an immense amount of information from this book.
- 296 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
- Foreword by Hannah Landecker
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