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August 3, 1994

Physician to the Gene Pool: Genetic Lessons and Other Stories

Author Affiliations

The Rockefeller University New York, NY

JAMA. 1994;272(5):407-408. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520050089040

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James V. Neel has been one of the most influential figures in the development of human genetics over the past 50 years. A book by Neel summarizing his life in human genetics, therefore, not only is welcome but deserves close attention. This fascinating scientific autobiography underscores the author's familiarity with the history of an increasingly complex field. The easy conversational tone of Neel's prose invites the reader to join him throughout his genetic adventures.

Trained as a classical geneticist, Neel was one of the first to realize that the scientific application of genetic principles to human disease was not only a legitimate field of inquiry but one that promised considerable medical enlightenment. This point of view was not fashionable in 1944, but, encouraged by Curt Stern, Neel boldly opted for a career in human genetics. Recognizing that the possession of a medical degree would facilitate his entry into the field,

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