BUSM professor authors book on how knowledge about genes and family history can save lives

August 26, 2011, Boston University Medical Center

World-renowned genetics expert Aubrey Milunsky, MD, DSc, has penned a new book focused on new DNA tests that have dramatically expanded our ability to avoid, prevent, diagnose, predict and treat many genetic disorders. Based on a lifetime of experience, he recounts the lessons learned from many families who benefitted from new advances in genetics, or could have, if they had only known. The book, Your Genes, Your Health: A Critical Family Guide That Could Save Your Life, provides important information about many genetic disorders, more especially since each of us unwittingly carries a significant number of harmful genes.

The National Institutes of Health Office of Rare Diseases reports that there are approximately 7,000 that affect about 1 out of every 12 people. In this non-technical comprehensive guide, Milunsky, who is Professor of , Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pathology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), provides valuable information about many genetic disorders, including cancer, heart disease, autism, mental illness, , birth defects, neurologic disorders, diabetes, obesity and many more. He describes the various options available via genetic counseling for couples at risk of having a child with a genetic disorder, including carrier detection tests, and preimplantation .

Milunsky underscores the importance of recognizing seemingly unrelated disorders in a family due to the same genetic mutation to illustrate the vital importance of understanding one's family history and ethnic origin. He also describes the most current tests that can diagnose or predict genetic disorders or that can detect carriers of many different harmful genes.

"Remarkable advances in genetic testing, coupled with people recognizing genetic and factors, frequently enable avoidance or prevention of serious or lethal genetic disorders and even important treatment," said Milunsky. "By knowing your genes, you may save your life and the lives of those you love."

Milunsky's research accomplishments include leading the research team responsible for first locating the gene for X-linked lymphoproliferative disease and cloning the PAX 3 gene for Waardenburg syndrome. As principal investigator, he also led a team that was the first to demonstrate that 70 percent of spina bifida cases could be avoided by folic acid supplementation taken 3 months prior to pregnancy and 3 months after conception.

Milunsky joined the Boston University community in 1982 when he was named Founding Director of the Center for Human Genetics and appointed Professor of Pediatrics and , both at BUSM. He became a Professor of Pathology in 1985, and in 1991 became the first Endowed Chair in Human Genetics at BUSM, which will be named for him upon his retirement. He has been honored by election as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of England and as a member of the Society for Pediatric Research and the American Pediatrics Society. He is also a Founding Fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics.

In addition to his academic and research successes, Milunsky is the author or co-author of more than 400 scientific communications and author, editor or co-editor of 24 books.

Your Genes, Your Health: A Critical Family Guide That Could Save Your Life, was published by Oxford University Press and is available now to the public.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Peers' genes may help friends stay in school, new study finds

January 18, 2018
While there's scientific evidence to suggest that your genes have something to do with how far you'll go in school, new research by a team from Stanford and elsewhere says the DNA of your classmates also plays a role.

Can mice really mirror humans when it comes to cancer?

January 18, 2018
A new Michigan State University study is helping to answer a pressing question among scientists of just how close mice are to people when it comes to researching cancer.

Two new breast cancer genes emerge from Lynch syndrome gene study

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian have identified two new breast cancer genes. Having one of the genes—MSH6 and PMS2—approximately doubles a woman's risk of developing breast ...

A centuries-old math equation used to solve a modern-day genetics challenge

January 18, 2018
Researchers developed a new mathematical tool to validate and improve methods used by medical professionals to interpret results from clinical genetic tests. The work was published this month in Genetics in Medicine.

Epigenetics study helps focus search for autism risk factors

January 16, 2018
Scientists have long tried to pin down the causes of autism spectrum disorder. Recent studies have expanded the search for genetic links from identifying genes toward epigenetics, the study of factors that control gene expression ...

Group recreates DNA of man who died in 1827 despite having no body to work with

January 16, 2018
An international team of researchers led by a group with deCODE Genetics, a biopharmaceutical company in Iceland, has partly recreated the DNA of a man who died in 1827, despite having no body to take tissue samples from. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.