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From The CriticsReviewer: Ruben Mestril, PhD (Loyola University Medical Center)
Description: This is an excellent survey of the main topics in modern day molecular biology as well as the new and updated topics such as proteomics and molecular evolution, among others. The presentation is clear and straightforward and the accompanying illustrations, also updated, enhance student understanding. A nice feature is the tie-in to relevant Cell Press articles that introduce students to the process of analytical thinking. Each chapter is followed by a section of key concepts, review questions, and conceptual questions, helpful for review.
Purpose: The main purpose is to present a survey of current topics in molecular biology. The interesting chapters on genomics and systems biology (chap. 9), proteomics (chap. 15), and molecular evolution (chap. 26), provide an excellent roadmap to how molecular biology has impacted our understanding of life on earth and possible future applications.
Audience: The book is written primarily for upper-division students interested in the study of molecular biology and genomics. It provides a good primer for first year graduate students, but it also is a good starting point for biological investigators not familiar with the different aspects of modern day molecular biology as well as those who are interested in biotechnology, since this is the required precursor to a second book in this series, Biotechnology, by the same authors.
Features: The book's six units cover general areas of molecular biology: basic chemical and biological principles, the genome, the central dogma of molecular biology, regulating gene expression, subcellular life forms, and changing the DNA blueprint. Each unit has three to six chapters covering topics related to each of these areas of study. Since each unit can be read or studied independently of the other units, this permits instructors as well as students to concentrate on their area of interest. Some of the convenient features include, for example, the accompanying online animations, which help to illustrate important points, and the sections called "Focus on Relevant Research," which are helpful in integrating some of the original literature from Cell Press. In addition, the key concepts, review questions, and conceptual questions are an excellent aid for students to review the material.
Assessment: Overall, this is an excellent textbook for students interested in molecular biology and its potential applications. This second edition is a significant update, with new chapters that address recent advances in molecular biology. The "Focus on Relevant Research" is a welcome new feature that connects the various topics with recent original scientific journal publications. The accompanying online resources are also excellent tools for both students and instructors.