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"Genetic Architecture of Intelligence"

Stephen Hsu - View Seminar
Vice President
Michigan State University Research and Graduate Studies
Director and Professor
Institute for Theoretical Science and professor of physics at the University of Oregon
Founder of (2) Silicon Valley computer security companies:
SafeWeb, Robot Genius
Scientific Adviser
BGI (formerly Beijing Genomics Institute)

Patenge Room C102 East Fee Hall 4:00 p.m.

How do genes affect cognitive ability or other human quantitative traits such as height? I begin with a brief review of psychometric measurements of intelligence, introducing the idea of a "general factor" or g score. The main results concern the stability, validity (predictive power), and heritability of adult g. Next, I discuss ongoing Genome Wide Association Studies which investigate the genetic basis of intelligence. Due mainly to the rapidly decreasing cost of sequencing, it is likely that within the next 10 years we will identify genes which account for a significant fraction of total IQ variation - in the case of height we are well along the way towards a similar goal. Finally, I describe some preliminary results on the underlying genetic architecture of height and intelligence.

As an academic researcher, specializing in particle physics and cosmology, I'm obviously passionate about the mission of the research university. My background in the technology sector opened my eyes to the importance of strong leadership and good management. In these times of tight budgets and cutbacks, higher education needs leaders with a broad range of experience – especially with innovation and new technologies. Running a startup teaches you how to make difficult, complex decisions under pressure. Some have compared it to rebuilding the engine in a car while it speeds down the racetrack. I think universities could use some of this know-how, given the current challenges.