Ellen M. Wijsman

Research Program:

Learning Disabilities

The long-term goal of this project is to identify genes involved in specific subtypes of dyslexia and dysgraphia. The hypothesis for a genetic contribution to learning disabilities (LD) is supported by four lines of evidence: 1) individuals with dyslexia cluster in families; 2) the concordance for dyslexia is greater in monozygotic than in dizygotic twins; 3) segregation analysis of family pedigree data has found evidence for both major locus and polygenic transmission; 4) genetic linkage analyses have identified regions of the genome that are nonrandomly associated with LD.

We are working with pedigrees in which some individuals have a learning disability. Because learning disabilities involve both orthographic and phonologic processing disabilities, we are currently using a variety of approaches to evaluate which component phenotype(s) show the strongest pattern of inheritance in pedigrees and to use this information combined with a genome scan to identify genes that contribute to these phenotypes.

Supported by NIH R01 HD 054563 "Genetic contributions to endophenotypes of dyslexia" (W. Raskind, PI).