Choices, Not Genes

Calico, which is part of Alphabet, was launched to study aging and mortality, and it teamed with AncestryDNA in 2015 to study the genetics of longevity. The researchers drew upon Ancestry’s family tree database to examine the lifespans of more than 400 million people, comparing how long spouses, parents and children, siblings, and distantly related and unrelated people lived. They focused on individuals born in Europe or the US in the 1800s to mid-1900s. As they report in the journal Genetics this week, Catherine Ball, the chief science officer at Ancestry, and her colleagues found the heritability of lifespan to be below 10 percent, and likely no higher than 7 percent.