The first two articles of the series provide a historical background of genetics and sequencing of the human genome and look into principles and methods in molecular biology. Part III will appear in the September issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
"The genomic revolution will profoundly alter 21st century medicine and promises to provide insight into the cause, treatment and -- ultimately -- the prevention of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's disease," says Richard Weinshilboum, M.D., director of Mayo Clinic's Genomics Research Center. "We are fortunate to be living at this unique and exciting time in science and the practice of medicine."
Part I of the primer series provides a brief history of genetics and the sequencing of the human genome. "The greatest benefits from the sequencing of the human genome are yet to be realized," the Mayo Clinic authors write. "Although continued advances in genetics research will be recognized most immediately by those working in genetics, the achievements, and their social and ethical implications, will affect all humanity. An understanding of the history of genetics and how we have arrived at where we are today will help prepare us to meet tomorrow's challenges."
The first article discusses humankind's earliest efforts to understand traits and their applications to plants and animals, and moves through a genetic history to the latest advancements in modern genetics. It also summarizes the "first draft" of the human genome sequence.
The authors of Part I of the primer series -- all from Mayo Clinic -- are Cindy Pham Lorentz and Gordon Dewald, Ph.D., of the Division of Laboratory Genetics; Eric Wieben, Ph.D., of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; Ayalew Tefferi, M.D., of the Division of Hematology and Internal Medicine; and David Whiteman, M.D., of the Department of Medical Genetics. Drs. Wieben, Tefferi, Whiteman and Dewald are members of the Mayo Clinic Genomics Education Steering Committee. The committee is a group that is working to introduce Mayo Clinic staff and trainees to medical genomics and educate them about developments as they occur.
In Part II, the Mayo Clinic authors recap selected principles and methods in molecular biology that are relevant to genomics. The intent of the article is to prepare readers for forthcoming articles in Mayo Clinic Proceedings that will have a more direct focus on specific aspects of medical genomics.
"The development of a structural and functional genomic infrastructure will undoubtedly accelerate our understanding of diseases and help refine methods of disease prediction, diagnosis, staging and treatment," the authors write. "Clinicians, clinician investigators and students of medicine must be prepared to participate effectively in the 'new' genomics revolution and tackle the economical and ethical issues that are integral to all aspects of medical genomics."
Another feature of Part II of the primer series is a glossary of 83 terms frequently used in medical genomics.
Authors of Part II -- all from Mayo Clinic -- on background principles and methods in molecular genetics along with Drs. Tefferi, Weiben, Dewald and Whiteman, are Matthew Bernard, M.D., of the Department of Family Medicine; and Thomas Spelsberg, Ph.D., of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. All of the authors are members of the Mayo Clinic Genomics Education Steering Committee.
Mayo Clinic Proceedings is a peer-reviewed and indexed general internal medicine journal, published for 75 years by Mayo Foundation, with a circulation of 130,000 nationally and internationally.