Description: It is unfortunate that in the year 2005, we still do not understand the mechanisms of such common psychopathologies in our field as hallucinations and delusions. Compare this with our understanding of jaundice: most medical students could rattle off the mechanisms involved. Similarly, although we have advanced in developing treatments with fewer side effects (i.e., SSRIs, atypical neuroleptics), we have actually not improved efficacy. Genomics, proteomics, and translational research carry the hope that the explosion on these frontiers will be brought to the bedside or consulting room. This book, edited and written by pioneers in the field, attempts to "translate" this burgeoning science for practicing psychiatrists. The book is an enormous contribution to psychiatry.
Purpose: The purpose of the book, according to the editor is "...to commemorate and honor the 'double helix discovery' and to prepare psychiatrists for the 'genomic era' that will unfold during the 21st century." (I think that era is already here!)
Audience: The intended audience is practicing psychiatrists. Psychologists, social workers, and anyone who is a mental health practitioner would become aware of the relevance of genomics to the sufferings of their patients by reading this book.
Features: The book is divided into seven chapters. The actual paper on the molecular structure of nucleic aids by Watson and Crick published in the journal Nature in 1953 is reproduced here as the first chapter. The other chapters contain excellent reviews written by leaders in psychiatry and include such topics such as psychiatric genetics, psychiatry and the genomics era, the question of whether genomics will revolutionize psychiatry, the endophenotype concept in psychiatry, genes and brains of mice and men, and microarray technology. There is an afterword by Marshall Nirenerg, PhD. Each chapter contains timely and up-to-date citations. The index is helpful.
Assessment: This is an excellent introduction to the exploding knowledge in molecular genetics and its implications for the practice of psychiatry.