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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Launches Life Of Science Book List

SEATTLE — August 24, 2005 — If you can't pick the brain of a Nobel laureate, the next best thing is to read the same books as he or she does. Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have developed a book list featuring some of their favorite reads. The Life of Science Book List is a taste of what Nobel laureates and other acclaimed researchers like to read to get inspired or gain knowledge.

Scientific researchers are usually immersed in the world of test tubes, fruit flies and high-tech, cutting-edge equipment out of the pages of exploratory fiction. The new Hutchinson Center book list is an introduction to books that researchers turn to for additional perspective on their work and the world.

If it all seems a little daunting, don't worry. Each of the dozen books is, first and foremost, a good story about discovery. Some of them are even edge-of-your-seat thrillers every bit as good as the latest John Grisham novel. Only these stories are true.

The list will be updated annually. The Center's scientists narrowed down their favorites to books they would readily recommend to their typical non-scientist friends. The chosen books had to be in print and selected from the categories of biography/autobiography, emerging science and scientific history.

The list of books can be seen on the Center's Web site,

Selected books include "The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time," Jonathan Weiner's groundbreaking book on current advancements in evolutionary theory; and "The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales," a collection of fascinating case studies from neurologist and author Oliver Sacks.

Hutchinson Center director and Nobel laureate Lee Hartwell, Ph.D., an avid reader of scientific literature, said that reading books inspires his pursuit of new knowledge. He particularly enjoyed the Oliver Sacks book.

" 'The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat' informs us on how compartmentalized our mental functions are," he said. "Our world is a patchwork of sensations and interpretations that somehow get seamlessly integrated."

While the Life of Science Book List is geared for adults, one children's book proved a standout and was added to the list. "Gene Machines (Enjoy Your Cells, 4)" by scientist/author Frances R. Balkwill and illustrator Mic Rolph provides an entertaining journey into the world of DNA for children aged 7 and up.

"We hope the books on this list will bring science to life for many people and give them an insight about the passion we, as researchers, feel for our work," said book-list contributor Fred Appelbaum, M.D., senior vice president and director of the Center's Clinical Research Division. "We're delighted at the thought of these books inspiring lively conversations around the dinner table."

Note for media only:
Fred Appelbaum, M.D., will be available for interviews between 9 a.m. and noon PT on Friday, Aug. 26. To schedule an interview, please call Kristen Woodward at (206) 667-5095 or e-mail


Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Life Of Science Book List

"Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment"
By James H. Jones

"The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time"
By Jonathan Weiner

"The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World"
By Michael Pollan

"Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science"
By Dr. Atul Gawande

"The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark"
By Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan

"Gene Machines (Enjoy Your Cells, 4)"
By Frances R. Balkwill and Mic Rolph

"Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War"
By Judith Miller and William Broad

"The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story"
By Richard Preston

"The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales"
By Oliver Sacks

"Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World"
By Tracy Kidder

"Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA"
By Brenda Maddox

"The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down"
By Anne Fadiman


Media Contacts
Kristen Lidke Woodward
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
(206) 667-5095

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Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, our interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists and humanitarians work together to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our researchers, including three Nobel laureates, bring a relentless pursuit and passion for health, knowledge and hope to their work and to the world. For more information, please visit