In 2010, when scientists at Knome Inc. were looking to study a remarkable human’s DNA, the human genome company reached out to Ozzy Osbourne. They wanted to know what genes had kept the rocker alive through decades of heavy drug and alcohol abuse.
Their findings did not disappoint. They discovered a never-before-seen mutation that may explain Ozzy’s ability to consume alcohol in great quantities and several genetic variations that predisposed him to drug and alcohol dependencies. “Ozzy is indeed a genetic mutant,” writes Bill Sullivan in his new book Pleased to Meet Me: Genes, Germs and the Curious Forces that Make Us Who We Are, which looks at the surprising ways we’re shaped by our DNA and biological factors that affect how our genes are expressed.
Turns out there’s a gene variant for a sweet tooth, multiple genes affect our enjoyment of coffee and genes even govern our emotions, sexual attraction and political tendencies. “After all these years of thinking we were free agents, we’ve come to realize that most, if not all, of our behavior is not of our own volition,” writes Sullivan, professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine.