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SSRI/DuPRI Seminar Series ~ The Genetics of Success: How SNPs associated with educational attainment shape the course of our lives"

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Thursday, March 26, 2015
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3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
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Dan Belsky, PhD (Duke University)
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DuPRI Seminar Series

In 2013, scientists reported the first successful genome-wide association study of a social science outcome, educational attainment.Their analysis of millions of genetic variants in over 100,000 individuals revealed a molecular "blueprint" for success in schooling written in the alphabet of DNA. Rather than a "gene for education", this study revealed a continuum of genetic predisposition, with some individuals carrying very few attainment-associated variants, the bulk of the population carrying some, and a lucky few carrying many. This genetic continuum, measured as a "polygenic score", has since been shown to predict educational attainments in cohorts on three continents, and even differences in educational attainments between siblings in the same family. But few data exist to shed light on how the genetic association with educational attainment comes about or what it means for life beyond the completion of formal schooling. We followed 1000 individuals from birth through their fourth decade of life in the Dunedin Study to investigate how genetically advantaged individuals differed from their less advantaged peers. We analyzed career achievement and financial success. We then looked backward to investigate pathways to success in school and beyond. Finally, we tested and the social, psychological and behavioral processes through which genetic influences become manifest. Seminar #4408

Contact: Mekisha Mebane