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By Leaps and Bounds and DNA Sequences

Stanford University researchers are seeking 'super-athletes' in order to study their genomes for signs of what makes them so good at running and jumping, San Francisco's ABC-7 News reports.

"We're interested to see which genes, which pathways, what biology really determines what makes them jump higher, run faster," Stanford's Euan Ashley says.

Right now, ABC-7 News reports, Ashley and his colleagues are studying volunteers, including members of the Stanford crew team. First, the researchers are assessing the volunteers' fitness — rower Kaess Smit, an Olympic hopeful, has been wired up to gauge how much oxygen his lungs can process under stress — and then selecting the top performers for genetic analysis. Overall, the team plans to sequence about a thousand people.

By uncovering such performance genes or variants, Ashley says his group hopes to find ones that could then be targeted to treat people with weak hearts or lungs.