Blueprint for a Cell: The Nature and Origin of Life. Christian DeDuve. Carolina Biological Supply Company.

Blueprint for a Cell: The Nature and Origin of Life Book Cover Blueprint for a Cell: The Nature and Origin of Life
Christian DeDuve
Carolina Biological Supply Company
January 1991

How did life begin?

Was life and accident?

How did the first cell form and how did it evolve to cover the earth with teaming life?

These are some of the questions probed by Nobel laureate Christian de Duve.

In the beginning was a churning, volatile earth. From the few molecules arose the dazzling structures of life. After millenia of wonder it is now possible to read the blueprint that caused life to emerge.

Dr. Christian de Duve draws upon his vast knowledge of biochemistry and cell and molecular biology to provide a critical summary of current theories and speculations on the origin of life. He also presents in compelling fashion his own insights and theories, which represent a powerful, original contribution to this fascinating field of study. Blueprint for a Cell is the most up-to-date and comprehensive account available on the nature and origin of life.

Dr. de Duve begins by defining the basic characteristics of life (the “blueprint”) and explains clearly and concisely the fundamental chemical strategies that allow cells to live. Next he tracks the evolutionary stages in the development of cells, revealing his personal view of the very first cell, the precursor to all life on earth. He then goes back to prebiotic time and, knowing what is to come, traces the chemical and environmental processes that lead to the origin of life and, eventually, to the first cell.

Christian de Duve shares his time between New York, where he is Andrew W. Mellon Professor emeritus at The Rockefeller University, and Brussels, where he is Professor emeritus at the Catholic University of Louvain and President of the International Institute of Cellular and Molecular Pathology. His research has centered on the separation and characterization of the different parts of living cells. He is known for the discovery of two cell organelles: the lysosomes, in which digestive processes take place, and the peroxisomes, which are sites of oxidative metabolism. His studies have yielded new insights into the cellular basis of many diseases.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1974 (jointly with Albert Claude and George E. Palade) for “discoveries concerning the structural and functional organization of the cell.” In 1975, he was elected a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. de Duve is a member of the Royal Academies of Medicine and of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Arts, and Literature of Belgium; the Pontifical Academy of Sciences; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Academie des Sciences de Paris; Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina; European Academy of Arts, Sciences, and Humanities; and the Academie des Sciences d’Athenes. He is a foreign member of the Royal Society (London), an honorary member of the British Biochemical Society, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.