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By D C Thomas. Oxford University Press, 2004, $42.50, pp 435. ISBN 0-19-515939-X
The contemporary research principles of genetic epidemiology are outlined in this book. The author clearly explains the research methodology and statistical analyses required to investigate important genetic epidemiological research questions. These include the following questions: Does a disease cluster in families? (familial aggregation); How does a disease cluster in families? (segregation analysis); Can familial aggregation be explained by genetic or environmental factors? (gene–environment interaction); Can we localise the genetic defect? (linkage and association studies). The theory is mainly illustrated with examples on the genetic epidemiology of cancer. As genetic epidemiology is a hybrid discipline, basic chapters on molecular genetics, epidemiology, statistics, and population genetics are included for those readers who need an introduction to any of these topics.
This book fascinates me because of its high didactic quality. The text is well organised and is easy to read. The content is interesting both to novices and to more advanced readers. The strength of the book is that it gives a complete overview of the different methods used in genetic epidemiology. Owing to its completeness, I would not be surprised if it were used in many semesters or courses on genetic epidemiology around the world. I would expect it also be very useful for the more advanced genetic epidemiologist as an up to date reference text. Readers interested in closely related disciplines such as population genetics, molecular genetics, behaviour genetics, statistical genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics will not find enough detail here and should look elsewhere.
I consider this text to be a standard work in genetic epidemiology and would advise both teachers and researchers in the field to read and use it.