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The society of genes / Itai Yanai and Martin Lercher.

  • Yanai, Itai, 1975-
  • Books

About this work


Nearly four decades ago Richard Dawkins published The Selfish Gene, famously reducing humans to "survival machines" whose sole purpose was to preserve "the selfish molecules known as genes." How these selfish genes work together to construct the organism, however, remained a mystery. Standing atop a wealth of new research, this book now provides a vision of how genes cooperate and compete in the struggle for life. Pioneers in the nascent field of systems biology, Itai Yanai and Martin Lercher present a compelling new framework to understand how the human genome evolved and why understanding the interactions among our genes shifts the basic paradigm of modern biology. Contrary to what Dawkins's popular metaphor seems to imply, the genome is not made of individual genes that focus solely on their own survival. Instead, our genomes comprise a society of genes which, like human societies, is composed of members that form alliances and rivalries. In language accessible to lay readers, The Society of Genes uncovers genetic strategies of cooperation and competition at biological scales ranging from individual cells to entire species. It captures the way the genome works in cancer cells and Neanderthals, in sexual reproduction and the origin of life, always underscoring one critical point: that only by putting the interactions among genes at center stage can we appreciate the logic of life.--From book jacket.


Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 2016.

Physical description

x, 282 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references and index.


Evolving cancer in eight easy steps -- How your enemies define you -- What's the point of having sex? -- The Clinton paradox -- Promiscuous genes in a complex society -- The chuman show -- It's in the way that you use it -- Theft, imitation, and the roots of innovation -- A secret life in the shadows -- Life's unwinnable war against freeloaders.



  • English

Where to find it

  • LocationStatus
    Medical Collection
    QH390 2016Y21s
    Open shelves

Permanent link



  • 9780674425026
  • 0674425022