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Paul A. Offit

Feb 7, 2022

You Bet Your Life

From Blood Transfusions to Mass Vaccination, the Long and Risky History of Medical Innovation

Basic Books 2021

Every medical decision—whether to have chemotherapy, an X-ray, or surgery—is a risk, no matter which way you choose. In You Bet Your Life: From Blood Transfusions to Mass Vaccination, the Long and Risky History of Medical Innovation (Basic Book, 2021), physician Paul A. Offit argues that, from the first blood transfusions four hundred years ago to the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine, risk has been essential to the discovery of new treatments. More importantly, understanding the risks is crucial to whether, as a society or as individuals, we accept them.

Told in Offit’s vigorous and rigorous style, You Bet Your Life is an entertaining history of medicine. But it also lays bare the tortured relationships between intellectual breakthroughs, political realities, and human foibles. Our pandemic year has shown us, with its debates over lockdowns, masks, and vaccines, how easy it is to get everything wrong. You Bet Your Life is an essential read for getting the future a bit more right.

Sine Yaganoglu trained as a neuroscientist and bioengineer (PhD, ETH Zurich). She currently works in innovation management and diagnostics. 

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Sine Yaganoglu

Sine Yaganoglu trained as a neuroscientist and bioengineer (PhD, ETH Zurich). She currently works in innovation management and diagnostics.

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