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Victor McKusick and the History of Medical Genetics
  1. David S Rosenblatt
  1. Correspondence to Dr David S Rosenblatt, Department of Human Genetics, McGill University, 1205 avenue Docteur Penfield Room N5/13, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1B1; david.rosenblatt{at}

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Editors: K R Dronamraju and C A Francomano. Published by Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012, ISBN: 978-1-4614-1676-0. (

This book is a tribute to the life of Victor McKusick, one of the giants in the fields of human and medical genetics. Dr McKusick has had genetic institutes named after him in Baltimore, Bologna and Beijing. He is considered among the founders of the field of medical genetics, both in the USA and in the rest of the world. His background being in internal medicine and cardiology, he was highly influential in bringing the new field of genetics into mainstream medicine.

The editors have solicited chapters from relatives, colleagues and former trainees. In Chapter 1, the senior editor, provides an overview of the career and foci of interest of the protagonist. This is followed by chapters from his wife, Anne Bishop McKusick and his identical twin brother, Vincent L McKusick.

There are perspectives on the early days of the Moore Clinic at Johns Hopkins, the contributions of Dr McKusick to the studies of Marfan syndrome, dwarfism, medical genetics in the Amish and clinical genomics.

Of the many chapters, I was particularly struck by that by Peter S Harper entitled ‘Victor McKusick and the History of Medical Genetics’. Professor Harper gives a beautiful summary of the accomplishments of Dr McKusick as a historian, pioneer in the development of medical genetics, champion of human gene mapping, developer of ‘Mendelian Inheritance in Man’ and ‘OMIM’ and creator of the Bar Harbor ‘Short Course in Medical Genetics’.

This book is enriched by the addition of many photographs, both personal and professional, as well as appendices containing a full bibliography and a series of eulogies. Anyone with an interest in the history of medical genetics will experience great joy from reading this ‘Ode to McKusick’.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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