In pursuit of a happiness gene

This is Prof. Yoram Barak of Tel Aviv University. Photo Credit: AFTAUThe pursuit of happiness characterizes the human condition. But for those suffering from stress, money trouble or chronic illness, a positive outlook on life can be difficult to find. Now, a Tel Aviv University researcher says we should look to our genes.

Prof. Yoram Barak of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine is engaged in the "attempt to find the happiness gene, the genetic component of happiness," which may be 50% responsible for an optimistic outlook. The research is a collaboration between Tel Aviv University and its affiliated research hospital, the Chaim Sheba Medical Centre at Tel Hashomer, which is the largest hospital in Israel.

Initial research findings have made Prof. Barak optimistic about their ability to succeed. "If something is genetic, it should have a large concordance among twins," he says. "And the twin studies we are looking at show that 50% of happiness is genetically determined." Prof. Barak is now working with Prof. Anat Achiron of the Sheba Medical Center to identify the specific genes that are associated with happiness.

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