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1. The advent of recombinant DNA technology, polymerase chain reaction techniques, and completion of the human genome have revolutionized the understanding of disease development and also radically transformed the practice of medicine and surgery.

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2. Genes govern cell activity in different cell types, which ultimately leads to the health of the human organism. The cellular diversity is controlled by the genome and accomplished by tight regulation of gene expression in a given cell at a given time.

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3. Human diseases arise from improper changes in the genome. The continuous understanding of how the genome functions will make it possible to tailor medicine on an individual basis. The goal of personalized genomic medicine is to attack the disease by choosing personalized treatments that work with the individual’s genomic profile. Personalized genomic medicine will undoubtedly revolutionize the practice of modern medicine.

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4. Improving the outlook for human diseases can only come from a better understanding of the molecular signaling mechanisms that cause these diseases and subsequent successful therapeutic regimens.

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One of the goals of modern biology is to analyze the molecular structure and gain a fuller understanding of how cells, tissues, organs, and entire organisms function, both in a normal state and under pathologic conditions. Significant progress has been made in molecular studies of metabolism pathways, gene expression, cellular signaling, and organ development in human beings. The advent of recombinant DNA technology, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques, and completion of the Human Genome Project are positively affecting human society by not only broadening our knowledge and understanding of disease development but also by bringing about necessary changes in disease treatment.

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Today’s practicing surgeons are becoming increasingly aware that many modern surgical procedures rely on the information gained through molecular research. Genomic information, such as BRCA and RET proto-oncogene, is being used to help direct prophylactic procedures to remove potentially harmful tissues before they do damage to patients. Molecular engineering has led to cancer-specific gene therapy that could serve in the near future as a more effective adjunct to surgical debulking of tumors than radiation or chemotherapy, so surgeons will benefit from a clear introduction to how basic biochemical and biologic principles relate to the developing area of molecular biology.

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This chapter reviews the current information on modern molecular biology for the surgical community. It is written with the intent of serving two functions. The first is to introduce or update the readers about the general concepts of molecular cell biology, which are essential for comprehending the real power and potential of modern molecular technology. The second aim is to inform the reader about the modern molecular techniques that are commonly used for surgical research and to provide a fundamental introduction on the background of how these techniques are developed and applied to benefit patients.

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Basic Concepts of Molecular Research

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The modern era of molecular ...

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