by Patrick Weill, CT
The author of this comprehensive work is Dr. Edward D. Zanders, who is a long-time collaborator of the ATA and was the distinguished speaker for the medical division at the 2011 ATA conference. Dr. Zanders has a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Warwick in the UK. After holding research fellowships in the UK and the USA, where he worked on various aspects of biochemistry, molecular biology, and immunology, Dr. Zanders joined GlaxoSmithKline, where he became a senior scientist and research manager. In 2004, he founded PharmaGuide Ltd, a company dedicated to training and consultancy for scientists and non-scientists who are involved in the drug discovery industry. He also runs courses and webinars for technical translators and interpreters, and has spoken at many of the world’s most important translators’ conferences.
This guide is intended to provide a strong framework for translators and interpreters whose work relates to biotechnology. It is easily navigated for content and searchable for words or phrases that might be encountered in a translation project, and it features an impressive amount of hyperlinks for readers who wish to further explore the information presented. The author is clearly an expert on the topic; however, he presents the material with a sensitivity to the fact that many readers such as myself do not hold university degrees in science. He includes explanations and definitions of many technical terms and also indicates their Latin and Greek roots. Dr. Zanders uses clear, colorful illustrations and diagrams and he breaks up the serious nature of the work with some humor and interesting anecdotal details.
This 200-page guide is not to be taken lightly, however. It is an important and serious volume that offers something for everyone; a trained scientist would have been better able to navigate Dr. Zanders’ guide, but for me it was an excellent mental exercise and I am now better prepared to tackle related translation projects and further scientific reading.
In another example of the author’s awareness that not all readers (not many people, actually) are as accomplished in the field as he, the first half of the guide warms up the reader by presenting basic topics such as organisms, cells and molecules, molecular structures, valency, eukaryotes and prokaryotes, hydrolysis, primary and secondary metabolism, solvent extraction, inheritance, biochemical genetics, protein synthesis, transcription/translation, biochemistry vs. molecular biology, and much more.
Once the reader has been prepared with such concepts, Dr. Zanders proceeds to elucidate the science behind biotechnology, developing topics such as recombinant DNA technology, serotypes, gel electrophoresis, cDNA libraries, PCR, plasmids, vectors, DNA sequencing, chromatography, transfection, immunoassays, serial dilution, transgenic mice and plants, cell therapy, genome editing, pharmacogenomics, and synthetic biology. Of course this and the above list are not exhaustive, but I thought my reader might appreciate a sampling of the much larger list that I prepared of all the topics that I found particularly relevant to me and my work.
In the final chapter, Dr. Zanders presents some examples of patents and shows how their contents relate to the various aspects of biotechnology he covers in the previous chapters. I recommend Dr. Zander’s guide to all translators and interpreters, scientists and non-scientists alike, who work in any scientific field and of course especially to those who work in fields related to biotechnology. I must admit that I am relieved to have finished this review – it was a challenge – but I have certainly benefitted from the reading of a serious scientific work carefully crafted by a real expert.
More information about Dr. Zanders’ guide including purchasing instructions can be found here.
Patrick Weill has been living in central Mexico for 12 years and has been translating for 11 years. He is originally from northern California, and when not staring at a shiny screen, he enjoys spending time with family, including his dog Lulú, reading, and swimming.