Welcome to Gruen Lab!

Our lab studies the genetics of communication disorders and learning disabilities, specifically dyslexia and language impairment (LI). Dyslexia or reading disability (RD) is by far the most common learning disability in schoolchildren, with prevalence estimates ranging from 5-17%. Children with dyslexia are frequently undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or not diagnosed until adolescence. Exacerbating these difficulties is the fact that interventions are most effective when started early in development. Without proper remediation, affected children are at higher risk for adverse socioeconomic outcomes, poor academic performance, and lifelong struggles with basic linguistic skills. Little is known about the underlying biological etiology of dyslexia and language impairment. However, both dyslexia and language impairment show complex inheritance, suggesting sizable contributions from both one’s genes and one’s environment. The substantial genetic component—heritability estimates range from 40%-80%—prompted our lab to attempt to use human genetic and molecular tools to examine the biological underpinnings of dyslexia, language impairment, other learning disabilities, and other communication disorders.