This book covers the many ways humans benefit from interactions with other living species. By studying animals of all kinds and sizes, from microbial organisms to elephants and whales, we can learn about their adaptations to extreme conditions on the planet Earth, about the evolutionary development of specialized capabilities, and about their ways to defend themselves against predators and diseases. The authors discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Homo sapiens, and how the study of animals can make us stronger and healthier. To deepen our knowledge of genetics, molecular and cell biology, physiology and medicine, we need to study model organisms. To cure human disease, we can learn from animals how they have evolved ways to protect themselves. To improve human performance, we can study the animal kingdom’s top performers and learn from their successes. Considering these important pointers, the authors review genetic engineering techniques that can translate our existing and future animal connections into benefits for human health and performance. Finally, they discuss the challenges associated with our animal connection: the history of pandemics caused by bacterial and viral pathogens demonstrates that there is a risk for transmission of diseases that can disrupt human societies. The recent COVID-19 outbreak is covered in detail as an example.
Table of Contents
Foreword: Learn from Others
2. Evolution of Life on Earth
3. Adaptation of Life to Extreme Conditions
4. Homo Sapiens ("Us"): Strengths and Weaknesses
5. The Human Microbiome: How Our Health is Impacted by Microorganisms
6. Animals with Connection to Human Knowledge, Health, and Performance
7. Current Use and Future Promise of Genetic Engineering
8. Animal Connection Challenges
Michael Hehenberger is founder and partner of HM NanoMed LLC, Connecticut, USA. He retired in 2013 after a long career with IBM. He obtained his PhD and DSc in quantum chemistry from Uppsala University, Sweden. Throughout his IBM career, he has led collaborations with academic and global industrial life sciences organizations. His efforts have been documented in about 50 publications and book chapters. His first book, titled Nanomedicine: Science, Business, and Impact, was published by Jenny Stanford Publishing in 2015.
Zhi Xia is deputy secretary of the China Science Writers Association, project manager of the National High Technology Research and Development Program ("863" Program) of China, and core member of the Guangdong Provincial Innovation Team. He is also a popular science expert of the Chinese Genetics Society. He has published dozens of academic papers in internationally renowned magazines, more than 100 column articles in journals, and 14 books. He is a recipient of the National Publishing Fund Project, and National Outstanding Science Works Award.
"The authors provide ample evidence to convey the miraculous diversity of life and all it offers to the human race. They begin with an incredibly comprehensive overview of the hierarchy of life and the evolution of eukaryotic biodiversity, walking readers through foundational biological knowledge such as protein synthesis, gene regulation, and natural selection. They follow with a discussion of specific animal adaptations—such as avian migration using the Earth’s magnetic field—to further illustrate the variety of complex biological mechanisms that evolution produces. Hehenberger and Xia then present comprehensive case studies that demonstrate the level to which some animals have informed our genetic and medical understanding of humans. The ability of the authors to provide robust scientific context for their argument is their greatest strength. The extreme attention to detail provides a biological framework for their case studies, illustrates the number of crucial scientific developments that animals have facilitated, and instills in readers a sense of wonder and profound appreciation for the animal life around us. Ultimately, this volume thoroughly conveys the vast diversity in the animal kingdom, and draws connections between numerous animals and their contributions to modern biological, genetic, and medical knowledge. Hehenberger and Xia exhibit a commitment to understanding and celebrating animals that all humans should maintain."
The Quarterly Review of Biology, USA