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Prof Plomin selected for first Advanced ERC Award at the IoP

Professor Robert Plomin from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry has been selected out of 2,284 applicants for an Advanced European Research Council (ERC) Award of over £2million to undertake research into the ‘Genetics of High Cognitive Abilities’. This is the first time the IoP has hosted this award, and only the second time for King’s. 

Robert Plomin is Professor of Behavioural Genetics at the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre. His programme of research has contributed to a once controversial finding that is now widely accepted: that individual differences in cognitive ability are substantially influenced by genes, as well as the environment. The proposed research, scheduled to start in the new year, will use cutting-edge methodologies to identify genes responsible for the heritability of cognitive abilities. 

Prof Plomin says: ‘We conducted the first ever genome-wide association studies of cognitive ability at the MRC SGDP Centre and have so far identified a number of genes which influence cognitive abilities and disabilities. 

‘However, the problem of ‘missing heritability’ still remains. We have recently created a unique resource of 2,000 individuals with IQs greater than 160, which exceeds the average IQ of a Nobel Prize winner, to further research into the genetics of higher cognitive abilities. 

‘Few discoveries would have greater impact across the social and life sciences – from genes to brain to behaviour – than identifying genes associated with cognitive ability.’

Prof Helga Notwotny, President of the European Research Council expressed her congratulations in a letter to Prof Plomin: ‘I am confident that this Advanced Grant will help you to continue your research on the highest possible level, and to achieve groundbreaking results in the true spirit of the ERC Advanced Grants scheme.’

Prof Shitij Kapur, Dean and Head of School at the IoP at King’s says: ‘Professor Plomin was instrumental in setting up the MRC SGDP Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry. We are proud to have such a renowned leader in behavioural genetics working with us, and await the findings from his future research with great anticipation.’  

For more information please contact Seil Collins, Press Officer, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, email: or tel: 0207 848 5377
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