Student Review: Medical Genetics

February 24, 2011

Author: Ian D. Young

Edition: First (reissued)

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Pages: 320

Price: £29.99

ISBN 9780199594610

Ian Young's textbook aims to review the basic genetic principles and relevant genetic diseases covered during the study of medical genetics by medical and biomedical science students. The book successfully achieves that aim, presenting the information in a logical order so that the concepts that often confuse students are made easy to understand.

The first few chapters act as a review of the basics of genetics, including transcription and translation, mitosis and meiosis and a summary of mutations and chromosome rearrangements. These chapters seem to be intended for revision purposes rather than as an introduction to the subject, and serve as a helpful reminder of what students may have forgotten from their first year.

Young then goes on to explain simple Mendelian inheritance, including how genes are identified and the inheritance of complex disorders. After the basics have been introduced, the book reviews some of the most medically important areas of genetics, including cancer, before going on to the current and future treatment of genetic disorders. The final chapters are primarily designed for medical students, as they describe the clinical skills needed in medical genetics.

Unlike many genetics textbooks, Medical Genetics is relatively short and explains concepts in a concise and informative manner, with good use of diagrams to clarify the points made. Many textbooks have questions at the end of each chapter, but the multiple-choice questions presented here offer a particularly simple but effective way of checking the reader's knowledge. The reading list at the end of each chapter consists of only a few, well-chosen papers, thus allowing the student to easily access the most relevant information on the topic.

One of the best aspects of this textbook is its use of case studies and landmark papers that bring the text to life and allow the reader to understand more about a particular disease or the importance of a specific discovery. Some of the more interesting case studies include famous people who may have had genetic disorders: for example Frederic Chopin, who is thought to have suffered from cystic fibrosis.

This textbook offers a successful review of the basics of medical genetics. Some prior knowledge would be useful when reading it, but it makes a great revision tool, as the basic concepts are summarised clearly and effectively.

The book's overall layout and style help the reader to understand fully concepts that are often challenging when they are first introduced.

Who is it for? Biomedical sciences and genetics undergraduates, and medical students.

Presentation: Clear and informative, with case studies throughout the text and multiple-choice questions at the end of each chapter.

Would you recommend it? Yes, mainly to medical students and genetics undergraduates in their second or final year.

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