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Siddhartha Mukherjee Longlist Interview

6 October 2023

How does it feel to be longlisted?

It is an honor to see my book placed alongside exciting works from so many remarkable writers.


How did you conduct your research?

The book was written over the course of a few years, but it is deeply connected to the foundation laid out during my medical school years - studying to be a cell biologist, an immunologist and an oncologist. The most challenging aspect was organizing the structure of the book to vividly convey its message to the audience.


Based on your research, how far could the study of cells take humanity?

Life without contemplating cells is inconceivable for any scientist. In the realm of medicine, we're transitioning from the era of genetic research to the era of cellular exploration - a nascent science with a myriad of therapeutic potentials. However, alongside these possibilities arise ethical and philosophical inquiries, as we delve into the profound alteration of human bodies. It's a consideration that demands reflection both as medical professionals and as societies.


How does the book mix biology with character study?

The history of cell biology is full of strong characters, and finding them was not hard. There is also a thread of personal history, involving my own work in the lab and my encounters with patients. The stories all touch directly on the underlying science, which allows the book to weave around its subject in a way that I hope feels right.


What are you working on next?

My trilogy explores the cornerstone theories of modern biology: evolution, genetics and cell theory. Now, it feels instinctive to delve into the daily queries haunting doctors: What is the essence of our mortality? Is death an inevitable fate for humanity?