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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Bradley Steven Olsen Thornock, MPH (Saint Louis University)
Description: The book outlines the general aspects of genetic translational work, including the discovery, development, delivery, and outcome-analysis associated with bringing genetic technology from the bench to the bedside. In particular, the book emphasizes justice issues in the assessment of each phase of genomic translation.
Purpose: The stated purpose is "to expose, reexamine, and transform the values currently driving translational science in service of more just and effective ends." Given the current excitement and speed of genetic translation work, a call for increased reflection is a worthy endeavor. Unfortunately, the editors of this book tend to implant their own version of justice instead of examining the biases inherent within the translational and public health enterprises.
Audience: The intended audience includes "funders, policymakers, researchers, and the general public." In general, the authors write to this audience, though those more versed in genetics or ethics might find parts of the book rather thin. The editors and authors work in the fields of genomics, ethics, and justice.
Features: The topics the book covers represent a pantheon of issues relating to genetic translation, from the political underpinnings to the historic uses of newborn screenings. The chapters covering prenatal and neonatal screenings are especially well done. The editors interject commentary at the end of each section.
Assessment: The tenor of the book is more indoctrination than elucidation. The editors' biases about what is just are not challenged, but treated as givens; therefore, community-based participatory research is a good while expensive genetic screenings inevitably marginalize. More robust questions, such as whether the unequal ability to acquire genetic information through screening actually constitutes a health inequity, are not broached. While the book's aims are laudable, a more thorough and balanced investigation into the nature of a just genetic translation process would have served them better.