GMO Sapiens book teaser: time to talk frankly on human genetic modification

GMO Sapiens Book CoverI’ve written a new book on human genetic modification. This is my second book as the first one was Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide, which is currently the top stem cell book on Amazon. The new book is called GMO Sapiens: The Life-Changing Science of Designer Babies. 

You can pre-order it here at Amazon or over here at my publisher’s site. The newly updated cover is shown at right.

The title was chosen as a portmanteau (mashup) of GMO and Homo sapiens.

We’ve been aiming for the book to come out in mid-late December. I’m optimistic based on what I hear from the publisher, but we’ll see.

Why write a book on human genetic modification?

The science in this area has changed dramatically and both the wider scientific community and the public need to know what is going on so that they can participate in the dialogue.

Unlike in past decades, today the possibility of heritable human genetic modification is very real. Based on all that we now know it is reasonable to predict that someone will attempt to create genetically modified people (aka designer babies) in coming years. The results could be great or disastrous, but in either case (or probably more likely some mixture of the two) the outcomes are going to be revolutionary.

Are we ready for what may come next? How will this affect individuals and society as a whole?

More thinking, discussion, and transparency are urgently needed. The goal of this upcoming book is to move in a constructive direction by educating and stimulating debate as well as dialogue.

At the same time in the book, I am not afraid to tackle the real, but tough issues that are integral to this topic. It seems that up until now in science it has been somewhat taboo to talk about the possibility of designer babies. However, we don’t have time to close our eyes to the reasonable probability that someone will try to make designer babies in the near future nor to pretend that nothing could go wrong for individuals or society. Already this year we saw the creation of the first genetically-modified human embryos in the lab using the amazing gene editing toolbox that is CRISPR. That is just one step, but may have opened the door to much more.

It addition to being a resource for learning, my new book is written to be an enjoyable read that is approachable to both an educated lay audience and scientists alike.

Here’s the draft back cover blurb (could still change):

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) including plants and the foods made from them are a hot topic of debate today, but soon related technology could go much further and literally change what it means to be human. Scientists are on the verge of being able to create people who are GMOs.

Should they do it? Could we become a healthier and ‘better’ species or might eugenics go viral leading to a real, new world of genetic dystopia? GMO Sapiens tackles such questions by taking a fresh look at the cutting-edge biotech discoveries that have made genetically modified people possible.

Bioengineering, genomics, synthetic biology, and stem cells are changing sci-fi into reality before our eyes. This book will capture your imagination with its clear, approachable writing style. It will draw you into the fascinating discussion of the life-changing science of human genetic modification.

Human Cloning in Art: Daisuke Takakura 高倉 大輔 Powerfully Captures Essence

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the future of human reproduction might be very different from today’s reality due to recent technological advances.

Things like human cloning (the reproductive, “Star Wars” kind) and human genetic modification seem very real now.

It feels almost imminent in a sense compared to the milleenia of the “old fashioned” natural way of making babies.

Daisuke Takakura 高倉 大輔

I find this technology both fascinating as a scientist and also mind-blowing as a science writer. In fact, I’ve become so interested in it that I’m writing a book on it now. It will be my second book following up on Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide.

As I’ve been learning more about this topic it has started to resonate for me just how much it has already been the focus of art and literature.

A recent art exhibit really struck a chord with me by gifted artist Daisuke Takakura 高倉 大輔. Follow on Twitter @Schrodinger678 and Facebook.

In the images from Daisuke’s collection, including the two shown here, there is a powerful sense of what it might feel like to have a new reality of human clones.

Beautiful work!

Human cloning

You can see more of Daisuke’s work here.

Daisuke will also participate in fotofever at PARIS PHOTO in November.

Stem Cell Talk & Book Signing Tomorrow October 5 at Noon in Sacramento

Knoepfler-Stem-Cell-Insiders-BookSmallTomorrow at lunch time I’ll be giving a talk on stem cells, taking questions, and signing copies of my new book, Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide.

The event will take place at Shriners Hospital for Children of Northern California in the 1st floor auditorium at noon. The address is 2425 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95817. There is free parking the Shriners garage for attendees.

You can read more about the event here.

I am going to talk about how stem cells are revolutionizing medicine as well as go over the challenges and opportunities that are ahead of us in this exciting field. It’s a good chance to get an update on stem cells and ask questions.



More on my new stem cell book & how to get 30% off

Knoepfler-Stem-Cell-Insiders-BookSmallI’m excited about a new development on my stem cell book.

It should be available on Amazon in E-book form in 2 days on Friday, September 27th for $22.

It looks like you can already get the E-book on the publisher’s site here today.

The top 2 questions I’ve been asked lately about what I am up to are “why did you write a book?” and “how long did it take?”

I wrote my book on stem cells (Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide) because I judged that I could boost the impact of my educational outreach efforts via going beyond my blog to include a book. I figured that a book could have a broader, different kind of audience.

To the best of my knowledge, I have very little potential to make any money off of this book even if it is very successful and I knew that was almost certainly going to be the case going into this so I didn’t go into the project to make money. Instead, I find writing and interacting with the wide audience of people interested in stem cells to be rewarding.

If the book does make me an decent sum of money, a good chunk of that will be going from me to charity, stem cell outreach, or research. 

It took me about a year to write this book once I had made the deal with the publisher, although some sections I had written earlier in draft form as I had been thinking about writing a book for a few years. Some sections also are inspired by or actually have some material from this blog as well. In the end now that I can look at the project I have to confess it was a heck of a lot more work than I ever imagined. It’s about 365 pages long…just about one page for each day in the year.

I really don’t know how I got it done, but I can tell it involved a lot of sleep deprivation and weekends devoted to writing.  I think my family was about ready to take away my laptop at some points I was so focused on the book.

If you order the book now through the publisher here you can still get it for 30% off the cover price. If you order it through Amazon here with the Amazon built-in discount and free shipping it is not that different than the publisher price.

Even with no discount the book is affordably priced at $29 and that price was an important issue to me.

Once you read it please let me know what you think. My prediction is that the book will surprise you in many ways. It may even upset some of my supporters on some fronts and please some of my critics on other points. Overall I hope it gets people talking about the most important issues and talking with each other.

Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide Book Signing & Talk on October 10th

Knoepfler Stem Cell Insiders BookSomewhere out in the ocean there is a container ship steaming from Singapore here to the US and getting close to our shores.

On that ship are the first printing copies of my new book, Stem Cells: An Insider’s Guide.

At the same time, preparations for the e-book version are just about done.

I hope you find the book interesting. It’s topics range from proposed new FDA reforms to a Stem Cell Patient Bill of Rights to an insider’s look at many of the most important and controversial stem cell topics.

I wrote the book with the goal that it be accessible to a lay audience meaning you don’t have to be a stem cell expert or even a scientist to read, understand, and enjoy it. At the same time I hope that scientists find it valuable as well.

On Thursday, October 10th at noon, I’m going to give a talk on stem cells for the public at the UC Davis Bookstore “The Stores” Lounge (aka the main bookstore) on the UC Davis main campus in Davis, CA.

The talk will be followed by a Q&A and then I’ll be around to sign copies of my book.

For more information about this event please contact Paul Takushi, UC Davis Stores, 530-752-9072,