Our Cells, DNA, and Bodies

1st Edition - July 1, 2021

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  • Author: David Goldman
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780323856928
  • eBook ISBN: 9780323856935

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In recent times, the boundary between living and non-living has been blurred by advances in genomics, cell biology, and molecular neuroscience, whereby humans are repaired, enhanced, or made anew. Scientists and physicians are now able to keep cells, organs, and bodies alive indefinitely and can return cells or DNA to our bodies and make new cells for the purpose of treating disease or growing new tissue. Meanwhile, transhuman technologies create illusions of immortality. Immortal: Our Cells, DNA, and Bodies synthesizes what we know about life and death from a genetic, molecular, and cellular perspective, demarcates limits of knowledge, and poses new questions. Award-winning researcher and writer David Goldman examines in-depth three keys to understanding the nature and continuity of life: 1) epigenetic (ephemeral) vs genetic (durable) transgenerational memory; 2) life’s cellular nature, and the ability to make bodies from cells; and 3) the distinction between bodies and persons. Grounded in recent scientific evidence and real-life cases that test our historical understanding of life and death, Goldman probes the nature of molecular continuity in the face of mortal extinction, encompassing how changes to the DNA code can be both long-lasting and transgenerational, and the continuous nature of cellular and molecular information transmission. In tying these themes together, Immortal asks us to apply fresh scientific concepts to examine, for ourselves, the continuity of being in the face of mortality.

Key Features

  • Applies recent genetic, molecular and cellular findings to examine the boundaries between living and non-living, and between person and non-person
  • Examines the significance of epigenetic memory and transgenerational inheritance and their uses in molecular and precision medicine
  • Written by a thought-leader in genetic and molecular medicine


Active researchers, basic and translational scientists, and clinicians in the areas of human genetics, genomics, molecular biology, cell biology, neuroscience, aging, and physiology, internal medicine; bioethicists clinicians and students of life science, genetics, and medicine; engaged general public

Table of Contents

  • 1. Death
    2. HeLa: The resurrection of Henrietta Lacks
    3. Persistence of memory
    4. Hel: Goddess of death and life
    5. Where self-resides
    6. Our diploid selves
    7. Our cellular selves
    8. From molecule to self
    9. The ancient divide between molecule and self
    10. Viruses and other half-life
    11. Altruism, of cell and self
    12. Shrines and museums
    13. Robbing the grave
    14. Birth
    15. Anastasia

Product details

  • No. of pages: 204
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2021
  • Published: July 1, 2021
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780323856928
  • eBook ISBN: 9780323856935

About the Author

David Goldman

David Goldman
Dr. David Goldman received his B.S. from Yale University in 1974. He received his M.D. degree in 1978 and completed residency training in psychiatry in 1979, both at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Dr. Goldman joined the NIAAA in 1979 and has been chief of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics since 1991. Throughout his career, Dr. Goldman has focused on the identification of genetic factors responsible for inherited differences in behavior. His laboratory is currently exploring the genetics of alcoholism, substance abuse, and related health problems.

Affiliations and Expertise

Laboratory of Neurogenetics, NIAAA, Rockville, MD, USA

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