Sep 13 2008
One of the more dramatic revolutions in academia over the past decade has been the advent of Positive Psychology. Below is an interview I did at Stanford University with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi at Civic Ventures’ 2006 Purpose Prize Summit (where I am a Sr. Fellow):
What interests me particularly, however, is the notion of what I’ll call positive genomics. Is it possible to understand the genome in terms of the positive, life-affirming qualities that make us whole, resilient, and adaptive? Can we find genetic contributors to Seligman and Peterson’ Character Strengths and Virtues? Rather than compiling endless taxonomies, can we find and understand what’s working? Given the information explosion that we are undergoing, how do we even begin to discover this positive informationOne interesting study of the wellderly seems to be a step in the right direction:
The ‘Wellderly Study’ is a joint initiative between the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, and scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland. It hopes to investigate the genomes of 2,000 people aged 80 or more who take no significant medication and have never suffered from any serious disease.
“We are looking at a cohort that we think is harbouring major secrets. They have disease susceptibility genes, but they don’t get the diseases you would have expected. Something has protected them. We hope to find out what that is,” says study leader Eric Topol, who is director of genomic medicine at Scripps.”
So, how do we bridge the information gap between the petabytes of genomic information inundating us to the notion of beauty, awe, and a a life well-lived? I’m not quite sure at the moment, but it’s a wonderful question to be asking. I am sure that we aren’t going to answer this question by breaking things and then looking for what fails.
I’m very open to hearing about other positive genomic research and efforts… mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any suggestions, putting “Postive Genomics” in the subject line of your message.