Coming soon… The Case of the Short-fingered Musketeer continues!

The Case of the Short-fingered Musketeer… continues!


This is the book I wrote in 2012 called “The Case of the Short-fingered Musketeer,” about a long-term project by the laboratory of Friedrich Luft to discover the genetic causes of essential hypertension. The book was written as both a detailed case study of a scientific project and a parable for the amazing progress of what we call “molecular medicine” over the past 20 years. It is also a remarkable account of a unique collaboration between basic researchers, a family with a genetic disease, doctors, clinicians, pharmacologists, and the politics of science. (There was also some art involved, as seen in the magnificent cover painted by my good friend Stephen Johnson, of Lawrence, Kansas.)

In 2012 the story was still unfinished – so it goes in science – but 2015 saw the publication of a new paper that brought the story to a satisfying conclusion. That occasioned a new chapter.

The book was supported and published by the institute Fred, his team and I work for – the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine of the Helmholtz Association. We are still hopeful that a mainstream publisher will pick up a streamlined version of the book – if you’re interested, please let us know!

Now the group is awaiting word on (hopefully) the acceptance a new paper that takes the story even farther and will certainly require a chapter 22. In optimistic anticipation, and in honor of Fred Luft’s recent 75th birthday, I will begin posting excerpts from the book here over the next days and weeks.

For those who can’t wait, the introduction and final chapter can already be read on-line at the links below.


Final chapter

Stay tuned for new developments!

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I am a science writer at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, author of fiction and popular science books, an artist, and a professional musician who performs on the viola da gamba and Medieval and Renaissance stringed instruments. I edit manuscripts of all types and teach the full range of scientific communication skills. I am doing theoretical work in this subject - see for example

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