The Catalyst

RNA and the Quest to Unlock Life's Deepest Secrets

19 July 2024


A Nobel Prize-winning scientist reveals biology's most transformative achievements in decades—a Double Helix for the dawning of the RNA age

Over the last half century, a quiet revolution has taken place. In a series of breathtaking discoveries, biochemist Thomas Cech and a diverse cast of brilliant scientists have revealed RNA at the centre of biology’s greatest mysteries, from how life began to what makes us human to why we age. At last, The Catalyst pulls back the curtain to show how RNA—long sidelined as the passive servant of DNA—defines life from its very origins to our future in the twenty-first century. Recounting his own paradigm-shifting discovery that RNA can catalyse biochemical reactions, as well as his work on the “fountain of youth” telomerase, Cech unfolds how RNA holds the key to the intricate machinery of our cells, the critical processes of ageing and disease and the spectacular powers of breakthrough therapies from CRISPR to mRNA vaccines. From one of our foremost scientists, The Catalyst is a must-read guide to the present and future of biology and medicine.


"Lively and entertaining... In  [The Catalyst], the machinations of RNA emerge as a core feature of what makes us human. We appear to be at the beginning of a conceptual enlightenment in biology—an ‘age of RNA,’ as Mr. Cech calls it. Biology will never be the same." — Adrian Woolfson, The Wall Street Journal



160 x 236 mm • 304 pages


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