Medical Minute: Genius Sperm Bank

Even at a young age, Leandra Ramm was a performer. Now, at 22, Leandra is an award-winning opera singer and has studied at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music.

Leandra said, "I sang my whole life pretty much because my mom is a pianist, so I kind of, like, grew up with music."

Was it her upbringing or her genes that made her talented? Leandra's parents couldn't conceive, so they selected a sperm donor, not just any donor though. They got the sperm from the repository for germinal choice, an operation that sold women "genius sperm."

David Ramm, Leandra's father, said, "I think every mother and father thinks that when they have a child it is going to be wonderful, beautiful and intelligent and talented, right? This was the same thing."

Scientist Robert Graham came up with the idea, hoping to create a generation of geniuses.

David Plotz, Researcher/Author of “The Genius Factory,” said, "He thought too many stupid people were having too many children."

David Plotz, author of The Genius Factory, has researched the project for more than five years. What Robert Graham did is he turned infertility into a consumer business. The donors were anonymous and color coded. Fuchsia was a world champion in his field, turquoise headed a research lab, moss played the flute and guitar.

Adrienne picked clear.

"Clear was a scientist, research scientist, and he had done important research in his field, and he loved music."

But did it work? Leandra is clearly musically talented, and she tested in the gifted range with an IQ over 135.

"I think you have to look at who the mothers are, what kind of woman goes to a sperm bank that is known as the Nobel prize sperm bank. It is a woman who is determined to raise a child who is going to be accomplished."

Scientist Lee Silver says there are ways to isolate genes associated with intelligence.
Researchers have already bred a mouse with a larger cerebral cortex, a key part of the brain that supports complex thinking. They've also engineered mice to remember new things as they age, but there are obstacles when it comes to doing this in humans.

Lee Silver, PhD, Molecular Biologist, said, "The concept of intelligence isn't a single entity. Somebody may have talents in mathematics, but be a lousy writer."

Silver says what you do with the talent is important. Leandra agrees.

"It's definitely a combination between genes and the background that I had growing up, and I think I was really lucky to have great parents."

Nature and nurture, the combination she says makes for a winning performance.

For more information, contact:

David Plotz