Chloe and Karen are ambitious and independent-minded young scientists, both trying to make their mark in the competitive world of biomedical science. They work in Tom Palmer’s lab at a top-tier research institute in the US. Life in the lab is full of excitement and passion, but also frustrations, jealousy and the fear of being scooped. When honesty and scientific
integrity are questioned in the context of a paper accepted at a prestigious journal, all are deeply affected and everyone must decide what actions to take to save their careers.
The primary intent of this novel is to draw the reader into the lives of scientists and show what makes people of this profession – or vocation – “tick”. Full of smart, driven,
enthusiastic, and yet fallible, individuals, the story portrays the fascinating world of top-level science. It illuminates motivations behind disastrous events that can emerge when ambitions clash with the way science is supposed to work.
The novel is complemented by an extensive interview with the author on defining features of contemporary bio-medical research: the challenges of turning discovery into publications (“publish or perish”), peer review, women in science and, of course, scientific misconduct. The latter has garnered growing attention lately, including high-profile stories in the popular
press, and is a source of concerns for scientists, funders and publishers alike.
About the author: Pernille Rørth holds a PhD in cell biology and genetics. She has led research labs at top institutions in the US, in Europe and in Asia, including the Carnegie Institution for Science (Dept. Embryology) and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). With 25 years as an active scientist, she is senior author of numerous research articles, including some in the most prestigious journals in biology. She also served as Executive Editor (Editor-in-Chief) of The EMBO Journal for 5 years. This is her first novel. She now lives in Copenhagen with her husband, also a scientist.