Natural Obsessions

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Natural Obsessions is a book written by American science author Natalie Angier published in 1988. It chronicles a year in the laboratories of two prominent cancer biologists during a period where there was a race to discover and characterize some of the first cancer-causing and cancer-suppressing genes.


It chronicles the time, about a year, that she spent in the labs of two very prominent cancer biologists, Robert Weinberg and Michael Wigler, during a period where there was a race to discover and characterize some of the first cancer causing and cancer-suppressing genes (oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, respectively). This book gives insight into the day-to-day working of a top scientific laboratory with no embellishment - both the excitement and thrill of discovery as well as the drudgery and politics can be found in Natural Obsessions. Pressure to find these genes mounts and everyone is scrambling to be the first to announce this major discovery which could have gone to several laboratories.

Of interest to students thinking of a career in science as well as practicing scientists who will relish the honest portrayals and may personally know a number of the scientists who are now prominent in their fields.

Commercial and critical reception[edit]

Natural Obsessions was reviewed favorably in the New York Times[1] and Smithsonian magazine[2] in the months after its initial publication. The book was named a New York Times Notable Book for 1988.[3]

As of 2001, the book has been used as a text in a cancer biology course at the University of Chicago and the University of Houston.[4]



  1. ^ Lax, Eric (1988-07-10). "A Wild Tribe in the Lab". New York Times. 
  2. ^ Kalfus, Ken (November 1988). "Natural Obsessions: The Search for the Oncogene". Smithsonian. 
  3. ^ "Christmas Books; Notable Books of the Year". New York Times. 1988-12-04. [dead link]
  4. ^ Easton, John (2001-05-24). "Marsha Rosner, the Charles B. Huggins Professor and Director of the Ben May Institute for Cancer Research". The University of Chicago Chronicle. 

External links[edit]