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November 22/29, 2000

Genomic Medicine and the Individual Patient—Byte to Bedside: A Call for Papers

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Dr DeAngelis is Editor and Dr Smith is a Contributing Editor, JAMA, and Dr Rosenberg is from the Department of Neurology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, and is Editor of the Archives of Neurology.

JAMA. 2000;284(20):2642. doi:10.1001/jama.284.20.2642

Why should any particular person be singled out to suffer a particular disease? Patients ask, "Why me?" and the up-to-the-minute answer is provided by the media, usually with pontifical certainty and authority, "It's in your genes." And there is some truth in it.1

Despite the current excitement and hubbub surrounding the mapping of the human genome, the typical busy clinician heading for the examination room is probably not thinking much about the role of genetics in the patient's problem. The clinical relevance of the Human Genome Project2,3 is evolving but far from being established. However, it seems likely that the rapid accumulation of data on gene function will result in new approaches to patient care both incrementally (eg, diagnostic testing) and globally by "modifying medical thinking."1 Of course, genetic testing is already central to the evaluation of some conditions, such as BRCA-related breast cancer.4