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Am Fam Physician. 2005;72(3):359-360

The Academy’s Annual Clinical Focus (ACF) offers AAFP members state-of-the-art clinical information on a single topic of major importance. The goal of ACF is to provide the tools family physicians need to provide comprehensive patient care in today’s environment of fast-paced change and technological advancements. Medical genomics was chosen as the clinical focus for 2005 because family physicians will play a major role in this growing area of medicine. Since the successful completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, it has become clear that genetics are involved in many common diseases, in addition to those caused by rare single-gene disorders.

AFP will publish a series of major review articles related to the 2005 ACF, the first of which appears in this issue (see “Family History: The Three-Generation Pedigree” on page 441). Future topics planned include familial cancers, newborn screening, ethical issues, pharmacogenetics, and inborn errors of metabolism. AFP has also published mini-reviews related to ACF topics in the past two issues (fragile X syndrome in the July 1 issue and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in the July 15 issue). More mini-reviews will be published in future issues.

Collaborating with the experts

The ACF genomics program is made possible with the support and participation of several organizations, one of which is the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health. We are fortunate to have two prominent geneticists with the Institute involved in AFP articles related to this year’s ACF. Daniel J. Wattendorf, MAJ, MC, USAF, a family physician, is coordinating the series of genomics articles. Dr. Wattendorf is the liaison to the Office of the Surgeon General for the Institute and has been a leading geneticist with the Human Genome Project. When asked how genomics will affect family medicine, Dr. Wattendorf said, “Family medicine of the future will not utilize population-based algorithms, but will finely dissect specific risk factors for disease based on individual variation. Family physicians of the future will truly be personalized prevention specialists.”

Maximilian Muenke, M.D., coauthor of the AFP genomics mini-reviews, is the chief of the medical genetics branch of the Institute. His research program is seeking knowledge about the development of the central nervous system and is identifying origins of developmental disabilities and mental retardation. Dr. Muenke recently said, “Genetics and genomics are of utmost importance to the field of medicine and especially to family physicians, because they are the primary caregivers. Most disorders have an underlying genetic component. In the future, because of genomics, more diagnostic tools will be available, as well as treatments based on the underlying genetic cause.”

This issue’s cover article by Dr. Wattendorf and Donald W. Hadley, M.S., focuses on the importance of family history in the assessment of common diseases. The article outlines the family physician’s role in collecting accurate health histories and recording relevant information.

For more information

To obtain additional information on the AAFP 2005 Annual Clinical Focus on genomics, go to Information about the National Human Genome Research Institute can be found at A glossary of genomics terms is available at

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