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In new novel, secret discovery threatens company and damages love affair

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. (Nov. 29, 2010) -- Research scientist Jennifer Rohn's newly released novel, The Honest Look, set in a start-up biotechnology company, explores conflicts between the need for scientific truth and the drive for commercial success.

Rohn, a cell biologist at University College London and the Founder and Editor of, has received abundant praise for her fiction. "Novels that portray scientists as protagonists, doing science in a realistic way, are scarce," wrote Nature's reviewer about her first novel, Experimental Heart (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2008). "Rohn aims to change the way in which the reading public thinks about scientists."

The Honest Look centers on biologist Dr Claire Cyrus. By becoming a scientist, she hopes to escape the influence of her dead father, a brilliant but critically unsuccessful poet whose bitterness has derailed her own strong talent for verse. Hired for her technical skills by a start-up biotech company in the Netherlands, she finds herself at first an outcast, shunned by jealous colleagues. Attracted to one of them, and hoping to impress him with an innovative investigation, she makes a secret discovery that becomes a threat to the company, her career, her relationship, and her belief in science as a search for truth.

The novel is a tale of passion and betrayal that illuminates the tensions between the idealism of furthering knowledge and the realities of financial goals. The Honest Look is inhabited by characters portrayed with an authenticity founded on Rohn's intimate knowledge of the scientific community, yet she has skillfully made her story exciting and engaging for readers not trained in science. Claire's solace in poetry is reflected by frequent quotations from Tennyson, Whitman, St. Vincent Millay, and Shakespeare. As Cell's reviewer wrote of Experimental Heart, "Rohn's skill in melding the scientific and literary worlds will give you a fresh perspective on life and work".


Contact: Jane Carter
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

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