Corey Haas and Hannah Sames sign their photos in "The Forever Fix: Gene Therapy and the Boy Who Saved It," at the Schenectady Library, April 21, 2012.

Pub date for "The Forever Fix: Gene Therapy and the Boy Who Saved It," 3/13/12

Ricki and a pile of hippos on Martha's Vineyard


Ricki Lewis is a science writer with a PhD in genetics. After writing several textbooks and thousands of magazine articles, she is most excited about her first narrative nonfiction book, "The Forever Fix: Gene Therapy and the Boy Who Saved It," published by St. Martin's Press in March 2012. It is the story of a lifetime: a reborn biotechnology that gave the gift of sight to an 8-year-old. In a compelling, novel-like style, Ricki chronicles the ups and downs of gene therapy through the eyes of the children, parents, researchers, and dogs who have experienced it.

Ricki grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and went to Stony Brook University. She earned her doctorate in 1980 from Indiana University, working with flies that had legs growing out of their heads and mouths. Not seeing a bright future in healing insect appendages, Ricki took a graduate science journalism course, and her life changed.

After grad school, Ricki did a stint as an assistant professor at Miami University, where they needed a person under 80 with two X chromosomes to teach human genetics. She also began writing health-related articles for the Cincinnati Enquirerís Sunday magazine. Shortly before leaving Ohio for upstate New York 18 months later, about to burst forth her first F1 (genetics-speak for offspring), Ricki encountered five academic publishers waving contracts for college textbooks. She signed her life away.

Four textbooks (in many editions) and streams of articles followed. Ricki was the founding author of the intro biology textbook Life, and is a co-author of two human anatomy and physiology textbooks. But her favorite is Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications, now in its tenth edition, all for McGraw-Hill Higher Education. She published an essay collection, Discovery: Windows on the Life Sciences, for Blackwell Science in 2001. Her first novel, Stem Cell Symphony, was published in January 2008, and is based on her experiences as a hospice volunteer. Routledge Pressís "The Basics" series published Human Genetics: The Basics in 2010.

Rickiís articles have appeared in scientific, medical, and consumer publications, including Discover, The Scientist, Science, Nature, Playgirl, Self, Health, Womanís World, Genetic Engineering News, High Technology, The New York Times Book Review, FDA Consumer, BioScience, Cambridge Healthtech Associates and the Cure Huntington Disease Initiative.

Ricki does things other than write. Since 1984 she has provided genetic counseling for parents-to-be at CareNet Medical Group in Schenectady, NY. She taught a variety of life science courses at SUNY Albany, Empire State College, Schenectady County Community College, and a traveling childrenís museum. She currently teaches "Genethics" online for masterís degree students at the Alden March Bioethics Institute of Albany Medical Center. Ricki loves to read, garden, exercise, and collect roadkill.

Today Ricki is a regular guest blogger for Scientific American, writes news for Medscape Today, and is mulling over her next book project.

Volunteer activities include hospice, the Union College Academy for Lifelong Learning, and several committees for the American Society of Human Genetics. She is a frequent public speaker.

Ricki is married to Larry Lewis, a chemist at GE, and they live near Schenectady, NY and sometimes on Marthaís Vineyard. They have three grown daughters, many felines, and a tortoise. Ricki loves hippos and drives a royal blue mini-Cooper named Tawanda.

Selected Works

Project to engage students in helping families with rare genetic diseases
Book Club Reader's Guide
Many challenging questions to stimulate thought and discussion.
Instructor's Guide
38 discussion questions to get students thinking and talking about gene therapy, including the science, ethical issues, and the drug approval process.
Narrative science
The Forever Fix is the uplifting true story of 8-year-old Corey Haas, who was cured of hereditary blindness just 4 days after gene therapy.
College Textbooks
A spectacularly-illustrated, clearly written human anatomy and physiology textbook, used in pre-health profession programs throughout the U.S.
A highly engaging, clearly written, beautifully illustrated introduction to the science of human genetics for the non-scientist. Now in its 10th edition.
DNA reflects who we are -- but it isnít the whole story.

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