Book Review: I Contain Multitudes - The Microbes Within us and a Grander View of Life image

Journal of Law and the Biosciences, June 2017
Rachel E. Sachs (Academic Fellow Alumna)


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From the review by Rachel E. Sachs:

Ed Yong's I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within us and a Grander View of Life is a thoughtful, readable, and even humorous look at the rapidly evolving field of microbiome research. The microbiome is the community of microbes that live within each of our bodies—the bacteria, viruses, and protozoa that exist in a symbiotic relationship with us, at least most of the time. Yong encourages us to reconsider our view of ourselves as individuals, when in fact ‘we are legion, each and every one of us’. To quote Walt Whitman, as he does in the title of the book: ‘I am large, I contain multitudes.’

Until just a few years ago, the microbiome was not a topic of mainstream scientific interest. But its popularity has exploded overnight. Not only have premier scientific publications like Science and Nature devoted entire issues to the topic, but more popular press outlets like Scientific American and the Economist have been similarly riveted. Even politicians have noticed: President Obama's creation of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, Personalized Medicine Initiative, and Cancer Moonshot were widely covered, but he also launched a National Microbiome Initiative.

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