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On the Frontline of Medical Discovery

The Genetics of Speech and Communication Disorders

Dennis Drayna, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Section on Transcription Factors, Sensory Receptors, and Channels
Laboratory of Molecular Biology
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Tuesday, September 24, 2002 • 7 pm
Masur Auditorium • NIH Clinical Center

Photo of Dr. Drayna

Communication is a crucial part of our lives. When we have problems speaking or understanding, our very existence is affected. Millions of Americans suffer from communication disorders. In fact, stuttering affects about 1 percent of our population. Tonight, Dr. Dennis Drayna will explain how genes affect our ability to communicate. Specifically, he will discuss his work with stuttering and disorders of pitch recognition-also known as "tone deafness."

Dr. Drayna completed his undergraduate training in biology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin. He went on to Harvard University where he received his Ph.D. in microbiology and molecular genetics in 1981. From 1981 to 1985, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Utah Medical Center through the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

He then worked in the private sector in biotechnology firms, serving as a senior scientist with Genetech, Inc., from 1985 to 1990 and as founder and Director of Research for Mercator Genetics, Inc., from 1992 to 1996.

He began his career at NIH in 1996 as a Visiting Investigator with the National Center for Human Genome Research. He joined the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders as a Senior Fellow in 1997. Currently, he is a senior fellow with the Section on Transcription Factors, Sensory Receptors, and Channels, Laboratory of Molecular Biology. He holds five patents relating to gene products and genetic diagnostic tests.

Dr. Drayna has engaged in many professional activities including serving as a member of the NIH Study Section on Mental Retardation, as an organizer of the First International Workshop on Human Chromosome 8 Mapping, and the International Program Advisory Committee on Human Genome Mapping.

He has received numerous honors, including a fellowship from the American Society for Human Genetics and the William C. Gibson postdoctoral fellowship, awarded by the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He is an active member of the Human Genome Organization and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

A prolific author, Dr. Drayna has published widely in journals on genetics and communication disorders in such prestigious publications as Nature and Science.

Central to Dr. Drayna's research interest is using the power of genetics to find the genes causing inherited speech and hearing disorders.

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This page last reviewed on 09/9/09

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