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New book summarizes latest thinking about how genes influence healthy youth development

The new volume, The Dynamic Genome and Mental Health: The Role of Genes and Environments in Youth Development, presents the results of a conference sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and Oxford University Press on the interrelations between genetic and environmental influences on youth mental health and development.

The book covers a wide range of recent advances in our understanding of the influence of genes on the healthy development of adolescents. Most important is the large role that environments play in controlling genetic influences throughout development. As a result, outmoded ideas about heritability as a static or fixed characteristic are no longer tenable. Indeed, the genome’s influence is dynamically interrelated with the environment. This has profound implications for how we think about environments for children and their families.

The book is co-edited by Daniel Romer of the Adolescent and Health Communication Institute of the APPC along with two leaders in the field of genetic and environmental influence on development, Kenneth S. Kendler of Virginia Commonwealth University and Sara R. Jaffee of the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London. Contributors to the volume cover all the major approaches to the study of gene-environment interplay and provide reviews of recent advances in our understanding of this interplay as it relates to intelligence, substance use and problem behavior, affective disorders, and psychosis. The volume is described by Nancy Pedersen of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden as a “must-read not only for social and behavioral scientists, but for clinicians as well, indeed anyone who is interested in an understanding beyond nature and nurture.”

The book is available from the publisher, Oxford University Press, at