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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Joann A. Boughman, PhD (University of Maryland)
Description: This book is from the First International Workshop of Complex Traits using Twins and Sub-Pairs which took place in 1998. The editors have compiled chapters from multiple authors, sometimes with competing perspectives, on data collection and study design, approaches to estimating genetic and environmental influences, and methods of assessing specific gene contributions to traits.
Purpose: As the editors' goal is to focus on areas of development and controversy rather than to present a comprehensive overview, they meet their objective. The editors and contributors are both precise and concise, but they provide enough context that the major points are covered without reading references extensively. This book would be a useful addition to the shelves of many laboratories and private offices.
Audience: One of the intriguing aspects of this compilation is that it is appropriate for a wide variety of scientific audiences from students through experts in areas of statistics, epidemiology, population genetics, and molecular biology. While some chapters would be preferred by those immersed in analysis, several contributors have provided sound reviews and updates on a variety of topics. The editors and contributors are creditable in the fields in which they write. Some are more accomplished and well known than others, but each chapter is readable alone or in context.
Features: This compilation is really quite broad in the coverage of data collection and the power of study designs that appropriately utilize twins and sib-pairs. Pitfalls and perceptions are addressed directly in many chapters, providing a text-like approach for newcomers. The inclusion of chapters by authors preferring different analytic approaches both permits and challenges the reader to assess strengths and weaknesses of alternatives. The editors have condensed a great deal of historical perspective as well as current discussion into a small space by their selection of topics, contributors, and editing. This book is not the most up-to-date, comprehensive, nor analytical coverage of these fields of statistical genetic studies, but is meant to provide background, context, and review. Those scientists immersed in this field would not be inclined to look to this reading for current solutions to complex analytical challenges.
Assessment: As a result of the international meeting, the editors have compiled very valuable collection of chapters that indeed contributes significantly to the field by emphasizing the great value, importance, and power of these analytical approaches. The numerous contributors have taken their charges seriously, and provide enough background and analysis to define the approaches and issues without overwhelming the more novice reader with incoherent detail.