What happens when a cancer research institute's only remit is to be the best it can be? For more than 100 years, one laboratory in London has operated on just that premise. With a generous budget, inspired leadership, and a stable of scientific thoroughbreds, the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories produced some of the 20th century's most exciting advances in molecular biology. In its 21st century incarnation, as the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, it continues to inspire a new generation of researchers.
In a new book Blue Skies and Bench Space, published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press and written with the assistance of the past and present inhabitants of the London Research Institute, Kathy Weston tells the inside story of the lab's greatest voyages into the scientific unknown, revealing the personalities behind the dry logic and passive voice of the scientific paper. Science is an art, a vocation, a complicated landscape of data in which, just sometimes, the trained and alert eye can detect a glint of gold. In these pages, the gold is present, but equally to be treasured are the all-too-human scientists stumbling towards its seductive glimmer.
Owing to generous support from the CRUK London Research Institute, an e-book version is available free of charge at http://www.blueskiesbenchspace.org, in either PDF or HTML versions. The website also hosts the author's blog and includes additional notes and enhanced features about the scientists she interviewed for the book. A print version of the book is available for purchase at http://www.cshlpress.org.
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