The 8 Best Genetics Textbooks of 2020

An overview of eight genetics textbooks for undergraduates, medical students, residents, and professionals studying the field.

A collection of textbooks resting on a table.

Since the characterization of DNA as the genetic material in the mid-20th century, immense progress in advancing the understanding of human genetics has revolutionized science and medicine. From heredity to the development of cancer, genetics has established a role of critical importance in biology, and ethical dilemmas stemming from advanced techniques for the analysis and modification of genetic material are more relevant than ever before. Learning the fundamentals of genetics is now core to many career paths, from environmental science to immunology. Here we provide an overview of eight genetics textbooks, ranging from introductory genetics to population or medical genetics, that may be useful to students or professionals studying the field. Our team may earn a commission from qualifying purchases made through the below links at no additional cost to you.


Concepts of Genetics by Klug, Cummings, Spencer, Palladino, and Killian, currently in its 12th edition, details fundamental genetics concepts and modern genetic analysis techniques that would be useful to students taking an introductory genetics course or professionals reviewing core concepts from the field. The textbook has been updated to include discussion of developing topics such as gene modification using CRISPR-Cas9 and epigenetic regulation of eukaryotic gene expression.


Emery’s Elements of Medical Genetics by Peter Turnpenny and Sian Ellard provides comprehensive and practical discussion of clinical genetics ideal for medical students, residents, geneticists, and other healthcare professionals or trainees. Case studies, case-based questions, and review of the social and ethical implications related to the study and treatment of genetic disorders render this textbook useful for medical students preparing for the USMLE exams or healthcare professionals caring for patients with genetic disorders.


Conservation and the Genetics of Populations by Allendorf, Luikart, and Aitken provides an account of conservation genetics and biology useful to undergraduates, graduate students, or professionals engaged the study of wildlife or natural resource management. Theoretical and practical considerations regarding the role of modern genetics in species conservation and the regulation of biodiversity are covered in this comprehensive yet readable textbook. The second edition includes updated discussion of climate change, emerging diseases, and other developing topics.


Genetic Analysis: An Integrated Approach by Mark Sanders and John Bowman covers core concepts from an introductory human genetics course, such as molecular genetics and evolution, while emphasizing real-world applications. Practice problems are provided to support learning.


Genetics: Analysis and Principles by Robert Brooker introduces core genetics concepts in the context of scientific experiments. The content of each chapter is structured around one or two experiments that support learning. Students taking a one-semester genetics course may find this textbook helpful for mastering course material.


Medical Genetics by Jorde, Carey, and Bamshad is a clinically-focused textbook that details advancements in the understanding of the genetic basis for human diseases and developments in genetic testing and gene therapies. The textbook includes case studies, clinical commentary, and USMLE-style questions helpful to medical students preparing for the board exams or healthcare professionals reviewing core concepts from medical genetics.


Human Molecular Genetics by Tom Strachan and Andrew Read provides a detailed account of molecular genetics ideal for advanced undergraduates or graduate students taking relevant coursework. Recent methods for genome sequencing, gene editing, and disease identification and modeling are characterized in greater detail in the updated 5th edition.


The Biology of Cancer by Robert Weinberg introduces molecular and cellular cancer biology with a high level of clarity, organization, and detail helpful to research scientists, clinicians, and students studying the field. Undergraduates, graduate students, medical students, and professionals may find this book useful for better understanding cancer research or course material.


Read about the field of immunology on our blog.