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Genes From Such Great Heights

Researchers have delved into the genes of Shawn Bradley, a 1993 first-round NBA draft pick from Brigham Young University with a towering height of 7'6", MIT's Technology Review reports

According to BYU News, John Kauwe, a biology professor at the school, got upgraded to first class on a flight a few years ago and wound up sitting next to Bradley. They chatted and were both interested in examining why Bradley was so tall — he has no known genetic or pituitary disorder, BYU notes.

"Dr. Kauwe told me if I was game, then when we got home he would get the necessary approvals, collect some samples from me and get to work," Bradley tells BYU News. "I was game — I was very interested to see what he would find out."

As they report in the International Journal of Genomics, Kauwe and his team sifted through the more than 22,000 height-linked SNPs uncovered by the GIANT Consortium. They created a polygenic risk score for height and found that Bradley appeared to harbor a rare combination of many different common gene variants that each contribute a little bit to being tall.

However, the researchers note that while Bradley's polygenic score predicted he'd be taller than average, it did not accurately predict just how tall he is, as it only predicted he'd be 0.4 inches taller than average, suggesting other genetic and environmental factors could be at play.