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Gayle E. Woloschak, PhD

Professor, Department of Radiology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University

REVIEW

Dr. Polansky's book Microcompetition with Foreign DNA and the Origin of Chronic Disease is actually a long scientific paper that explains and justifies his theory of microcompetition with foreign DNA as the origin of multiple different chronic diseases including cancer, arthritis, obesity, atherosclerosis, and others.  The book is based in the concept that exogenous DNAs compete with normal cellular DNA for limiting transcription factors and thus influence the transcription rate of essential genes; when this occurs over a prolonged period of time, disease results. The concept is established, not through independent new studies but rather through a vast review of the literature covering over 1200 references in diverse fields of science including cancer biology, atherosclerosis, immunology, molecular biology, and others. While evidence for this concept is certainly found in much of the literature in single examples and through transgenic animal and transfection studies, there has been no unifying presentation of the microcompetition model as relating to such a large range of human diseases. 

In general, this volume provides a deep analysis of particular data supporting microcompetition for DNA sequences requiring GA-rich binding proteins for transcription. Some models relating to cell mobility, trucking models for LDL clearance, and other mechanisms are also presented, but these are important only insofar as they provide a background for supporting the microcompetition model. Nevertheless, the presentation of these other models was somewhat confusing, and it was difficult to discern whether acceptance of those models was actually essential for the microcompetition work. Regardless of the concerns, this provided interesting reading and certainly the suggested mechanisms warrant further consideration.

The DNA microcompetition model, which is the major focus of the work, is well-presented and argued in the volume. The analysis presented in this volume involves an in-depth focus on specific experiments that have been extensively examined and even re-drawn and re-calculated in an effort to establish the relationship between the literature and the DNA microcompetition model. It is clear from the presentation that the model is well-supported in the literature and fits naturally into existing molecular data. What was difficult to discern from the volume is whether Dr. Polansky actually believes that GA-rich binding proteins are the most important transcription factors for this microcompetition as a cause of disease, or whether other transcription factors are also important, making this a combinatorial process with a higher level of complexity than that actually presented in the volume itself.

This treatise is also interesting as a novel form of scientific theory presentation that may become more important in an age when the literature is so overwhelming that most investigators focus more on abstracts than on the meat of papers. This type of exploration of a theory based on the literature in an effort to provide unifying models could provide a new approach to biomedical questions that has not really been done well to date.

The book was written as a scientific paper, which made constant concentration an essential ingredient for understanding the work. This was on the one hand exhausting, and on the other hand satisfying and challenging. Dr. Polansky is to be commended for this volume, with its ideas and approach that are likely to influence the biomedical community for years to come.

BIOGRAPHY

Dr. Gayle E. Woloschak received a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH in 1976 and a PhD in Microbiology from the Medical College of Ohio, Toledo, OH. From 1980-1983, she worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Immunology and Molecular Biology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. During the mid-eighties, Dr. Woloschak worked as an Associate Consultant and Assistant Professor in the Department of Immunology and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Mayo Clinic/Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. From 1987-1992, Gayle worked as an Assistant Molecular Biologist at the Center for Mechanistic Biology and Biotechnology, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL. From 1992-2001, she was promoted to Molecular Biologist, Group Leader, Biosciences Division, Argonne National Laboratory. Dr. Woloschak has been a Member of the NIH Radiation Study Section, the U.S. Army Prostate Cancer Study Section, and the DOE study section for Low Dose Radiation proposals. From 2000-2003, she was the Vice-Chairman for the American Cancer Society-Illinois Research Committee. Currently, Dr. Woloschak is a Member, Microarry Core Facility Oversight Committee, University of Chicago; Senior Molecular Biologist, Bioscience Division, Argonne National Laboratory; Senior Fellow, Nanosciences Consortium, Argonne National Laboratory-University of Chicago; and Member, NCI Program Project Review Subcommittee D. Dr. Woloschak is currently a full Professor in the Department of Radiology, The Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. She has contributed to 102 peer-reviewed publications.

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