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From The CriticsReviewer: Hector Lopez, MD (Thomas Jefferson University)
Description: A thorough understanding of cell and molecular biology is essential for modern clinical practice. Medical students must appreciate the complexity of the human genome. They must understand mechanisms of gene expression, chromosomal abnormalities, polymorphisms that are risk factors for chronic disease, and gene mutations that cause developmental birth defects. In addition, our future physicians must understand the fundamentals of molecular diagnosis, forensic medicine, and stem cell therapy. This compact book provides a concise (high-yield) review of many interesting topics in cell and molecular biology. The 27 chapters cover topics ranging from oncogenes and tumor-suppressor genes and molecular biology of the immune system to identification of human disease genes, clearly illustrating the clinical relevance of these diverse topics. The focus is on cell biology, biochemistry, immunology, developmental biology, and (most importantly) molecular biology.
Purpose: "According to the author, the goal of this second edition is to "address molecular biology from a clinical perspective that would be useful and necessary for our future physicians." The author consolidates "the important clinical issues related to molecular biology that are obvious 'grist-for-the-mill' for USMLE Step 1 preparation." The author hopes this book will provide high-yield information for success on this national licensing examination. "
Audience: This concise book is written primarily for first and second year medical students who wish to review material learned in basic science courses. Biomedical researchers interested in the clinical relevance of cellular and molecular biology will also appreciate this short review book.
Features: "An interesting mix of topics is presented, ranging from mechanisms of protein synthesis to techniques used to identify disease-related human genes. Each chapter provides a compendium (treasure trove) of high-yield facts and definitions. The information flows from major headers to bulleted lists. The chapters are filled with summary tables and thought-provoking illustrations. A helpful list of abbreviations, as well as excellent appendixes filled with supplemental information round out the book. For example, one appendix lists functions of important cell membrane proteins, while another illustrates chromosomal locations of human genetic diseases. Bold typography is used throughout to emphasize keywords and reinforce essential concepts. "
Assessment: The wide range of interesting topics and the attention to clinical relevance are the most notable aspects of this book. It assumes readers have a working knowledge of cell and molecular biology and does not attempt to introduce these complex subjects. Rather, it assumes that rapid-fire lists of technical information and "buzzwords" will facilitate short term memory of concepts learned previously in both undergraduate and medical school courses. This is not a primer for beginning students. A short introduction to each chapter that included an overview of the subject and clinical relevance would have been helpful. Many chapters present a level of detail (e.g., lists of genes and specific mutations) that would probably not be represented on the Step 1 examination. There appear to be mistakes in the placement of some figures and some figures are not referenced in the text (see chapter 7). Overall, however, this thoughtfully prepared book presents an excellent review of clinically relevant topics in cellular and molecular biology that is useful for USMLE Step 1 preparation.