By Masha Gessen
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Additional resources for Blood Matters: From Inherited Illness to Designer Babies, How the World and I Found Ourselves in the Future of the Gene
This high general intelligence is frequently realized in measurable intellectual achievement. S. S. National Medal of Science, 25 percent of American Nobel Prize winners in literature, and 40 percent of American Nobel Prize winners in science and economics. Ashkenazi achievement in the visual arts and architecture, on the other hand, does not stand out—and Ashkenazi Jews tend to score slightly lower, on average, than other Europeans on tests of spatiovisual ability. Indeed, the gap between Ashkenazi IQ and spatiovisual scores is one of the odd features of this ethnic group.
I also found myself relentlessly looking for clues that would make sense of my situation. One of my newfound friends mentioned that her family hailed from the Polish city of Bialystok. My paternal grandmother was born in Bialystok, and I found myself wondering if I had inherited the mutation from my father, and he from his mother, who was alive and cancer-free at eighty-three. This would be good news if it were true: If she could carry the mutation and not get sick, my odds of developing cancer would be ratcheted down.
I went to see the authors of the study in Haifa. D. dissertation less than a year earlier (“a recent founder event,” he joked), and his skyrocketing career in genetics had been a matter of drift. Doron was a critical-care doctor at Rambam, the large medical center right next to the Port of Haifa. In an age when doctors the world over are criticized for cookie-cutter care, critical-care doctors exemplify the assembly-line approach. Unlike general practitioners and most specialists, they do not get to know their patients.