From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. A medical revolution is upon us and bestselling author Collins (The Language of God
), director of the National Institutes of Health, does a fabulous job of explaining its dimensions. Our knowledge of the genetic basis for disease has increased exponentially in recent years, and we are now able to understand and treat diseases at the molecular level with personalized medicine—care based on an individual's genetic makeup. Collins presents cutting-edge science for lay readers who want to take control of their medical lives. In an enjoyable form, he discusses cancer, obesity, aging, racial differences, and a host of other concerns. Most fascinating is the way Collins discusses the medical advances currently in place and those soon to come that are directly attributable to the federal government's Human Genome Project, headed by Collins, and which mapped the entire human genome. Collins is also not shy about taking on large political issues. He points out problems with our current health-care system, discusses stem-cell research, and in a cogent commentary, recommends—with caveats—direct-to-consumer DNA testing. By using case studies throughout, he does a superb job of humanizing a complex scientific and medical subject. Illus. (Jan.)
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Currently chief of the National Institutes of Health, Collins directs this work to those considering researching their double helix to assess their risk for hereditary diseases. Providing an idea of how risks are reckoned, ranging from certainty to probabilities, Collins gives a general explanation of both the Mendelian idea of dominant and recessive genes and the molecular biology of DNA. Collins’ work is then organized by various diseases such as cancer, on which a vista of diagnostic opportunity has opened due to the decoding of the human genome (Collins was the leader of the government’s decoding effort). With his prose reflecting a palpable excitement at the prospects of this new form of medicine, which he rates as nothing less than a revolution in human health, Collins combines uplifting cases of direly afflicted people who benefited from knowledge gained by genetic screening, with exhortation of the reader to learn about and take advantage of existing and developing techniques of genetic screening. Expect significant patron interest in Collins’ combination of science and practical information. --Gilbert Taylor