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
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.
for the Public home