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Genetic Linkage

Beauty Genes and Celebrities

I love to roam among the posters at scientific meetings in search of research tidbits that the media miss. I just found a great one at the American Society of Human Genetics conference that is certain to have profound implications for celebrities.

Among the many posters showing unfortunate babies, one from researchers at the University of Bristol stood out for its normalcy. They’ve identified genes that control facial features, from nose angles to lip lengths. The science is brilliant (a genome-wide association study that led to genes behind craniofacial disorders), but I thought immediately of the application to celebrities, who live with the terror that a child of theirs emerge from the birth canal (of the mom or the surrogate) somewhat less than perfect. Just imagine if Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, for example, had an ugly child.

I felt badly for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes when newborn Suri looked like a space alien, which might have had something to do with prenatal exposure to scientology. Although a look at Tom and Katie’s phenotypes might have suggested she’d blossom, a little in vitro followed by scanning embryos with a genetic test panel might have eased their anxiety during those early months when they shied away from the cameras.

I think of poor Heidi Montag, who had the misfortune to be born merely beautiful, and not spectacularly beautiful, necessitating a much-publicized ten cosmetic surgeries in one day last January. She’s a prime candidate for selecting a facially perfect embryo. Think of all she’ll save on the cost of cosmetic surgery.

Maybe I’ll start a direct-to-consumer genetic testing company. About Face?

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