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Bennett Shaywitz, MD

Charles and Helen Schwab Professor of Pediatrics (Neurology); Co-Director, Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity

Contact Information

Bennett Shaywitz, MD

Mailing Address

  • Pediatric Neurology

    PO Box 208064

    New Haven, CT, 06520-8064

    United States

Appointments

Biography

Bennett A. Shaywitz, M.D. is the Charles and Helen Schwab Professor in Dyslexia and Learning Development at Yale University and Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity.

The author of over 350 scientific papers, Dr. Shaywitz’ honors include election to membership in the National Academy of Medicine within the National Academies and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Washington University. He, along with Dr. Sally Shaywitz, has been honored with the Liberty Science Center 2019 Genius Award “in recognition of your inspiring accomplishments and your pioneering work in advancing our understanding of dyslexia,” and they were recently profiled in the Scientists at Work section of the New York Times Science Section Decoding Dyslexia, a Life’s Work in Progress. Most recently, he and Dr. Sally Shaywitz were invited to present at the GoogleX Future of Reading Conference.

As a physician-scientist Dr. Shaywitz performs cutting-edge neuroscience research and epidemiological studies to advance the neuroscience of dyslexia and cares for children and adults who are dyslexic. Both a child neurologist and neuroscientist, Dr. Shaywitz is dedicated to ensuring that scientific progress in dyslexia is translated into policy and practice. His research applies functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to understand the neurobiology of reading and dyslexia in children and adults. These studies have identified a neural signature for dyslexia, making a previously hidden disability visible, and for the first time demonstrating the brain basis for the lack of fluency in dyslexia. Recent research by Dr. Shaywitz examines differences in brain connectivity between dyslexic and typical reading children, revealing that in dyslexia brain connectivity is disrupted to the word-form area, an area critical to reading fluency. Studying the relationship between reading and attention in dyslexia he showed that connectivity is disrupted between reading and attention systems.

His collaborative research with Dr. Sally Shaywitz’ Connecticut Longitudinal Study (CLS) reveal both the neurobiological and cognitive underpinnings and economic and personal impact of dyslexia. These studies were the first to show that girls were just as likely to have dyslexia as boys (Prevalence of Reading Disability in Boys and Girls: Results of the Connecticut Longitudinal Study) and that the neural systems for language differed between women and men (Sex differences in the functional organization of the brain for language,) a study that was featured on the cover of the prestigious journal Nature. A study in progress compares early cognitive and academic performance when the CLS subjects were age 5 years to measures in these very same individuals’ who are now adults in their early 40s, offering a unique opportunity for unravelling which specific predictors relate to specific outcomes.

Other honors include selection, along with Dr. Sally Shaywitz, as recipient of the Lawrence G. Crowley Distinguished Lectureship at Stanford University; The Annie Glenn Award at Ohio State University; the Distinguished Lectureship at Bank Street College of Education; and the Stoll Distinguished Lecture at Pennsylvania State University and selection as the Inaugural Sally Smith Award recipients. By invitation, he has spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, here, in the U.S., at the Congressional Wives Club, U.S. Senate Field Hearings, as well as before many policy and education forums. Dr. Shaywitz serves on the Advisory Board of the Adult Literacy X Prize, on the boards of the Park Century School and the Louisiana Key Academy Dyslexia Resource Center. He previously served on the Institute of Medicine Immunization Safety Review Committee, on the National Vaccine Program Safety Subcommittee and on the Scientific Advisory Board of the March of Dimes.

Dr. Shaywitz has served for much of his career as Chief of Child Neurology at Yale School of Medicine, stepping down in 2015 to focus his energies on increasing public awareness and understanding of dyslexia and ensuring that 21st century knowledge of the science of dyslexia is used to inform the education and approach to children and adults who are dyslexic.

September 24, 2020

Education & Training

  • MD
    Washington University (1963)
  • Research Fellow
    Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
  • Chief Resident
    Bronx Municipal Hospital Center, Bronx, NY
  • Research Fellow
    Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY
  • Resident
    Bronx Municipal Hospital Center, Bronx, NY
  • Board Certification
    AB of Psychiatry & Neurology, Neurology with Special Qual in Child Neurology (1973)
  • Board Certification
    AB of Pediatrics, Pediatrics (1968)

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
Stoll Distinguished LecturePennsyslvania State University2007
The Annie Glenn AwardOhio State University2006
2003 Distinguished Alumnus AwardWashington University2003
Institute of MedicineNational Academies of Science2002

Departments & Organizations