‘Pleased To Meet Me: Genes, Germs, and the Curious Forces That Make Us Who We Are’

From a witty new voice in popular science comes a clever, life-changing look at what makes you YOU.

Deftly weaving cutting-edge science with popular culture, Pleased to Meet Me is an accessible and fast-paced book that’s sure to leave you wanting more. 

Sharon Moalem, M.D., Ph.D., New York Times best-selling author of “Survival of the Sickest: A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease

In equal parts approachable and mind-blowing, Sullivan gives us a whistle-stop tour of the myriad factors that make you who you are. Although it’s easy to believe that we choose our own paths in life, a good deal is navigated by invisibly small forces inside and outside of us.

David Eagleman, Ph.D., New York Times best-selling author, host of PBS series “The Brain”

Pleased to Meet Me is a rare treat: a book that’s fun to read from cover to cover, while leaving you wiser and better-informed about who you really are. 

Adam Alter, New York Times best-selling author of “Drunk Tank Pink” and “Irresistible”

photo of pleased to meet me

Why do some people like broccoli and others find it disgusting? Why might someone always be attracted to a certain type of partner? Why do we vote the way we do? What leads some people to addiction?

In "PLEASED TO MEET ME: Genes, Germs, and the Curious Forces That Make Us Who We Are" (National Geographic; on sale: Aug. 6, 2019) research scientist Bill Sullivan offers a groundbreaking new window into how genetics, epigenetics and microbes work with our environment to make us who we are. Sullivan, a professor of pharmacology and microbiology at Indiana University School of Medicine, draws on cutting-edge research to illuminate how our genes not only dictate our physical traits but can also have an enormous influence on our personality and behavior.

With wit and humor, Sullivan deconstructs provocative studies suggesting that certain genes influence whether someone is a liberal or conservative, violent or timid, lean or obese. But genetic makeup, he explains, is only part of the picture. Through a process called epigenetics, the environment can actually modify our DNA, which may explain how the behavior of our parents — for example, our mother’s behavior during pregnancy or whether our father was a smoker — can play a wide-ranging role in obesity, depression, anxiety and more.

Sullivan also examines recent studies regarding how our microbiota — the trillions of microbes living inside our gut — can affect our behavior and mood. The book draws from the latest psychology research to reveal why and how our brain can trick us into performing irrational behaviors or actions detrimental to our well-being and society. It also explains why people with opposing points of view struggle to convince one another to change their minds.

Whether you hope to understand why we tend to be more attracted to people with symmetrical features, why women who ate more fish during pregnancy had children with higher IQ scores or even why environmental exposure to toxins can lead to violent crime, "PLEASED TO MEET ME" is filled with page after page of illuminating facts that will help lift the curtain on one of our favorite subjects: ourselves. And as Sullivan reveals, understanding the biology of our behavior can help us to lead richer and more fulfilling lives. (Knowing the biological mechanisms that influence addiction, for example, allows researchers to devise better therapeutic interventions — and can help policymakers create environments that minimize destructive behaviors right out of the gate.)

Filled with cutting-edge research and relatable humor, "PLEASED TO MEET ME" is brimming with revolutionary insights that shine a light on who we really are — and how we might become our best selves.

About the Author:

BILL SULLIVAN is the author of "PLEASED TO MEET ME: Genes, Germs, and the Curious Forces That Make Us Who We Are." Sullivan received his doctorate in cell and molecular biology from the University of Pennsylvania and is an award-winning professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, where he studies genetics and infectious disease. He has published dozens of papers in scientific journals and has written for Scientific American, Scientific American MIND, Salon.com, COSMOS, PLOS SciComm, A Science Enthusiast and more. He has been interviewed by CNN, the Wall Street Journal, the Indianapolis Star, “Science Fantastic With Dr. Michio Kaku,” “The Naked Scientists” and The Scientist. Follow him on Twitter @wjsullivan.

Author website: https://authorbillsullivan.com/

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Media Contacts

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Ann Day, National Geographic, Ann.Day@natgeo.com, 202-912-6712