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November 17, 1993

The Genetic Basis of Common Diseases

Author Affiliations

Duke University Durham, NC


by Richard A. King, Jerome I. Rotter, and Arno Motulsky (Oxford Monographs on Medical Genetics, vol 20), 978 pp, with illus, $145, ISBN 0-19-505482-2, New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 1992.

JAMA. 1993;270(19):2381. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510190145041

Most genetic texts recapitulate basic material about the mechanisms of inheritance, followed by chapters illustrating mendelian principles at work in single-gene disorders such as hemoglobinopathies, inborn errors of metabolism, and connective tissue disorders. The current pace of discoveries in human genetics guarantees that any book, particularly one with dozens of authors, will be somewhat outdated by the time of publication. Nevertheless, brave editors and authors prepare such volumes to provide useful compendia of information in one place. As current research delineates the genetic aspects of common disorders (loosely defined as occurring at least once in 1000 individuals), a text devoted to them is most timely and welcome.

The Genetic Basis of Common Diseases is an excellent compilation of current knowledge. The introduction points out that the simply inherited mendelian disorders (dominant, recessive, and Xlinked) and chromosome abnormalities are uncommon or rare but that there are important genetic aspects of common