The Beijing Genomics Institute has the world’s largest genome-mapping facility which has 128 Illumina HiSeq 2000 gene sequencing machines. Satellite research centers have been set up or are underway in the U.S., Europe, Hong Kong, and four other locations in China, and the number of researchers at the main headquarters in Shenzhen has more than doubled during the past year and a half. The institute now employs almost 4,000 scientists and technicians—and is still expanding.
One of the projects is to determine the genetic basis of high IQ. His team is sampling 1,000 Chinese adults with an IQ higher than 145, comparing their genomes with those of an equal number of randomly picked control subjects. Zhao acknowledges that such projects linking intelligence with genes may be controversial but “more so elsewhere than in China,” he says, adding that several U.S. research groups have contacted him for collaboration. “Everybody is interested in intelligence,” he says.
Ethical and privacy concerns have hindered such work in America and Europe.
According to Professor Steve Hsu, who comes to the study from the University of Oregon, scientists have identified several candidate genes that may relate to IQ, although researchers are not yet sure. He said about 50 per cent of humans’ IQ is substantially [heritable].
Dec, 2010, Yin Ye, BGI’s vice-president, said researchers have already made some discoveries about IQ genes, but “it’s too early to make public our results”.
Theoretically if the genetic basis could be found for 50% of high intelligence then some of the effects of those genes could be mimicked with medication or gene therapy.
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