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The Strongest Boy in the World: How Genetic Information is Reshaping Our Lives, Updated and Expanded Edition

Subject Area(s):  Biology in SocietyGeneticsGeneral Interest TitlesHistory of Science

By Philip R. Reilly

© 2008 • 300 pp., illus., bibliography, index
Paperback • $16 12.80
ISBN  978-087969943-7
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This updated edition of Philip Reilly's highly praised and provocative book has been expanded to include an essay about the fast-moving and controversial field of personal genomics. In the essay, Reilly explains how new, cutting-edge technologies have facilitated the rapid discovery of genetic markers associated with ailments such as macular degeneration, heart disease, and schizophrenia. He describes how the same powerful technologies can be used to interpret the DNA sequence of anyone in the world—who can afford it. But how valuable are the data obtained from these tests? Will "personalized medicine" really improve our health and well-being? And at what cost? Reilly's new essay is a worthy addition to his entertaining and informative collection of stories on topics such as genetics and the future of sports, the evolutionary origins of humans, the mysteries of genetic diseases, the similarities between dogs and people, the impact of genetic engineering on what we eat, and the ethical dimensions of stem cell research.

About the author: Philip R. Reilly earned his undergraduate degree at Cornell University, studied human genetics at the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and graduated from Yale Medical School in 1981. He did his medical residency at Boston City Hospital. He earned board certification in internal medicine and clinical genetics. He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Society of Human Genetics, and he is a Founding Fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics. He twice served as President of the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics. During the 1990s, Reilly was the Executive Director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center for Mental Retardation in Waltham, Massachusetts, a nonprofit that worked on understanding childhood and adult neurological disorders. Dr. Reilly has held faculty positions at Harvard Medical School and Brandeis University. Since 2009 he has worked as a venture partner at Third Rock Ventures in Boston where he focuses on helping to start companies to develop innovative therapies for orphan genetic diseases. Over the years he has published six books and many articles about the impact of advances in genetics. Reilly frequently works with patient groups who are concerned with rare genetic disorders.



1. The Strongest Boy in the World
2. Our Ancestors
3. Race
4. Longevity
5. Intelligence

6. Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease
7. Huntington's Disease
8. Deafness
9. San Luis Valley Syndrome
10. Severe Combined Immune Deficiency

11. Dogs
12. Cats
13. Mice
14. Corn
15. Rice

16. History
17. DNA Forensics
18. Art and Language
19. Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis
20. Stem Cells
21. Personal Genomics



review:  “The Strongest Boy in the World is a wonderful tour of genetics, genomics and stem-cell biology.... he presents a rich, fascinating history and a broad view of the science that seasoned geneticists think about every day.... For the geneticist, Reilly presents a balanced, positive view of ethical and social issues in genetics, and an entertaining background in history, geography and economics, and the way these fields interface with modern genetics and genomics. I’ve often tried to convince my colleagues across campus that genetics should be a part of every undergraduate’s education. No book makes this case more clearly than The Strongest Boy in the World.“

review:  “Reilly writes well and avoids being slick and superficial. He believes in an ethical reflection on where science takes us. This combined approach makes the book valuable for courses on science and society or ethics. Teachers will mine a rich vein of anecdotes to use in their lectures, and this volume will be ideal to stimulate class discussion.”
      —The Quarterly Review of Biology