Top 10 Biotech Book Recommendation for a Biotech Enthusiast

How about starting this fall by reading something that can give you a fresh perspective on biotech? Here is the list of biotech books that you must read that will provide you more insight into biotechnology. This collection of books has a broad choice of topics, from entrepreneurial journeys to scientific breakthroughs in biotech and are fruitful for any biotech enthusiast.

Also read – Top 10 Non-Fiction Book Recommendations from a Biotech Enthusiast

1) Biology Is Technology: The Promise, Peril, and New Business of Engineering Life by Robert Carlson

This book tries to depict the impact of biotechnology in our society. It mentions the biosecurity issues, synthesizes actual debates, and picks up many illustrating cases. Technology is a process and a body of knowledge as much as a collection of artifacts. Biology is no different–and we are just beginning to comprehend the challenges inherent in the next stage of biology as a human technology. It is this critical moment, with its wide-ranging implications, that Robert Carlson considers in “Biology Is Technology.” He offers a uniquely informed perspective on the endeavors that contribute to current progress in this area–the science of biological systems and the technology used to manipulate them.

2) The Antidote: Inside the World of New Pharma by Barry Werth

In 1989, Joshua Boger left the American Merck to found Vertex, a drug company that would challenge industry giants and transforms health care. After describing it’s tumultuous early days in The Billion-Dollar Molecule, Barry Werth returns with a sequel to show you what it takes to succeed in the ferocious world of Big Pharma. At a time when America struggles to maintain its innovative edge, The Antidote is a powerful inside look at one of the most intriguing and important business stories of recent decades.

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3) Genentech: The Beginnings of Biotech by Sally Smith Hughes

Born from the passion of researcher Herbert Boyer and venture capitalist Robert Swanson, Genentech has been the first real Biotech company to produce a drug-using bacteria. Sally Smith Hughes tells the story of these entrepreneurs who will revolutionize the way we design and produce new drugs. A must-read for every Biotech enthusiast! By placing Genentech’s founders, followers, opponents, victims, and beneficiaries in context, Hughes also demonstrates how science interacts with commercial and legal interests and university research, and with government regulation, venture capital, and commercial profits. Integrating the scientific, the corporate, the contextual, and the personal, 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.

4) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

You certainly already heard about or even used the HeLa immortal cell lines. But did you know that these cells were taken from a poor black tobacco farmer without her knowledge in 1951? Rebecca Skloot tells a story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew. Henrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. Cells descended from her may weigh more than 50M metric tons.

5) Billion-Dollar Molecule: The Quest for the Perfect Drug


A great book on the history of Vertex, a Boston-based Biotech company, is employing over 2000 people. It introduces a new way of designing drugs, atom by atom. The company’s iconic founder, Joshua Boger, was the youngest professor at Harvard, young Senior Vice President at Merck & Co (MSD outside the US) and founded Vertex to start a better pharmaceutical industry. He did not succeed completely, but his story is worth reading, even if, in my opinion, the book is a bit long and too detailed on the chemistry in some chapters.

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6) The Annotated and Illustrated Double Helix


Watson & Crick became worldwide science stars after they discovered the double-helix structure of the DNA. On a side note, there is a pub dedicated to them in Cambridge, the UK called The Eagles, where they first drafted the structure by drinking one (or perhaps a few) pale ales. They both received the Nobel Prize and opened the way to an entirely new scientific revolution. This book depicts how the discovery was made.

7) Her-2: The Making of Herceptin, a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer by Robert Bazell



Her-2 is the biography of Herceptin, the drug that offers promise for hundreds of thousands of breast cancer patients. In his book, Robert Bazell presents how Herceptin was born in the middle of dramatic discoveries, scientific investigations, money from Hollywood, politics, strong egos, patient activism, and luck involved in moving this groundbreaking drug from the lab to a patient’s bedside. And throughout there are the stories of the heroic women with advanced breast cancer who volunteered for the trials, risking what time they had left on an unproven treatment. Meticulously researched, written with clarity and compassion, Her-2 is masterly reporting on cutting-edge science.

8) Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves by George Church and Ed Regis

George Church is certainly the most iconic researcher in the Synthetic Biology field. In Regenesis, he and science writer Ed Regis, imagine a future in which human beings have become immune to all viruses, in which bacteria can custom-produce everyday items, like a drinking cup, or generate enough electricity to end oil dependency. In these anticipated scenarios, Church and Regis show us how synthetic biology could change our reality. Full-blown genomic engineering will make possible incredible feats, from resurrecting woolly mammoths and other extinct organisms to creating mirror life forms with a molecular structure the opposite of our own. These technologies—far from the out-of-control nightmare depicted in science fiction—have the power to improve human and animal health, increase our intelligence, enhance our memory, and even extend our life span. A breathtaking look at the potential of this world-changing technology, Regenesis is nothing less than a guide to the future of life.

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9) The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, The Emperor of All Maladies, is a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer, from its first documented appearances through the epic battles to cure, control, and conquer it. Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective, and a biographer’s passion in a lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with for more than five thousand years. The book reads like a literary thriller with cancer as the protagonist. From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave cut off her malignant breast, to the nineteenth-century recipients of primitive radiation and chemotherapy to Mukherjee’s own leukemia patient, Carla, The Emperor of All Maladies is about the people who have soldiered through fiercely demanding regimens in order to survive—and to increase our understanding of this iconic disease

10) Science Lessons: What the Business of Biotech Taught Me About Management by Gordon Binder and Philip Bashe

In Science Lessons, Gordon Binder, former CEO of Amgen, describes the company’s climb to success. Revealing the highs and lows it experienced in the race to develop blockbuster drugs, he takes readers from the time Amgen had just three months of capital in the bank and no viable products in the pipeline to its spectacular success. Ambitious Biotech leaders will love this book. Through engaging anecdotes and cogent insights, Binder weaves a fascinating tale while offering his unique brand of practical management advice. Using the principals of the scientific method, he shares his recommendations for tackling pressing business challenges—such as managing creative employees, navigating the IPO process, and protecting intellectual property.

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