Cover image for Abraham Lincoln's DNA and other adventures in genetics
Abraham Lincoln's DNA and other adventures in genetics
Reilly, Philip, 1947-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cold Spring Harbor, NY : Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xx, 339 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QH431 .R38 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
QH431 .R38 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Twenty-four true, wide-ranging tales of crime, history, human behaviour, illness and ethics, told from the personal perspective of an eminent physician-lawyer. Philip Reilly uses these stories to illustrate the principles of human genetics and the wider issues.

Author Notes

Philip Reilly is CEO of Interleukin Genetics, Inc. in Waltham, Massachusetts. From 1990 to 2000 he was the Executive Director of the Shriver Center for Mental Retardation, Inc. Dr. Reilly has held faculty appointments at Harvard Medical School and Brandeis University. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine. He is also President of the American Society of Law, Medicine, and Ethics

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Reilly's treatise on modern genetics is engaging and well documented; he writes not only as observer but also as practitioner and advocate. His background as a physician, researcher, and attorney makes him uniquely qualified to discuss the scientific, legal, and ethical issues posed by his subject material. He has also included specific cases in which he served either as a medical or legal consultant. Some of the topics covered include human genetics, medical genetics, cytogenetics, forensics, genetic testing, and genetic engineering. He introduces many of these topics through fascinating historical cases. The first half of the book, the more historical aspects of the field, is very readable and moves along at a crisp pace. The second half treats more controversial and ethical issues but does not sustain the reader's attention as well. Reilly states in the introduction that one of his goals is to teach genetics through story telling. This reviewer is not sure that the author achieved this goal. His descriptions of the underlying science are not as thorough and instructive as they could have been. Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable and up-to-date book that will be thought provoking to both young scientists and legal experts. The author is to be congratulated on a job well done. General readers; upper-division undergraduates through professionals. J. M. Tomich; Kansas State University

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. xiii
Part 1 History: Using DNA to Understand the Past
1. Abraham Lincoln: Did He Have Marfan Syndrome?p. 3
2. Kings and Queens: Genetic Diseases in Royal Familiesp. 15
3. Toulouse-Lautrec: An Artist despite His Genesp. 27
4. Old Bones: DNA and Skeletonsp. 39
Part 2 Justice: The DNA Revolution in the Courts
5. DNA Detectives: The New DNA Evidencep. 53
6. Cold Hits: The Rise of DNA Felon Databanksp. 65
7. Genes and Violence: Do Mutations Cause Crime?p. 79
8. Wrongful Birth: What Should the Doctor Know?p. 93
Part 3 Behavior: Do Genes Make Us the Way We Are?
9. Mentall Illness: How Much Is Genetic?p. 105
10. Personality: Were We Born This Way?p. 117
11. Talent: Nature or Nurture?p. 131
12. Gay Genes: What's the Evidence?p. 145
Part 4 Plants and Animals: Genetic Engineering and Nature
13. Genetically Modified Organisms: The Next Green Revolution?p. 157
14. Transgenic Animals: New Foods and New Factoriesp. 173
15. Endangered Species: New Genes Beat Extinctionp. 187
16. Xenotransplantation: Animal Organs to Save Humansp. 199
Part 5 Diseases: The Genetic Revolution in Medicine
17. Cystic Fibrosis: Should Everyone Be Tested?p. 213
18. Breast Cancer: The Burden of Knowingp. 223
19. Alzheimer Disease: Are You at High Risk?p. 235
20. Gene Therapy: The Dream and the Realityp. 247
Part 6 Dilemmas: Genetic Technologies and Individual Choice
21. Genetic Testing and Privacy: Who Should Be Able to Know Your Genes?p. 263
22. Frozen Embryos: People or Property?p. 277
23. Cloning: Why Is Everyone Opposed?p. 289
24. Eugenics: Can We Improve the Gene Pool?p. 303
Bibliographyp. 317
Indexp. 331