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University of Iowa News Release

Dec. 3, 2003

Genetics Study Chosen As One of Top Ten Scientific Papers

A study co-authored by University of Iowa researchers has been selected as one of the 10 best scientific papers published on early childhood development in 2002. The paper was chosen by the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development (CEECD), based in the University of Montreal, Canada.

The study, which examined the genetic component of a disorder known as specific language impairment (SLI), appeared in the July 2002 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics. The study was led by Christopher Bartlett, Ph.D., formerly of Rutgers University and currently a UI postdoctoral research scholar with the Center for Statistical Genetics Research. The center is a joint College of Public Health and Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine initiative devoted to research on complex human inherited disease.

Children who fail to develop language normally in the absence of explanatory factors such as neurological disorders, hearing impairment or lack of adequate opportunity are clinically described as having SLI. The impairment affects about seven percent of children entering school and is associated with later difficulties in learning to read.

Bartlett and his colleagues studied DNA samples collected from five Canadian families of Celtic ancestry. The families, which had originally been identified for a linkage study of schizophrenia, also showed a history of language or reading impairments. The researchers found significant evidence for linkage between chromosome 13 and susceptibility to SLI, as well as evidence that two other areas, one on chromosome 2 and the other on chromosome 17, play a role in the development of the deficit.

"Studies of genetic markers for language impairments and other disorders will help with diagnoses and potential interventions," said Veronica Vieland, Ph.D., UI professor of public health genetics, director of the Center for Statistical Genetics Research and a co-author of the study.

In addition to Bartlett and Vieland, Mark Logue, Ph.D., UI assistant professor of public health genetics, participated in the study. Additional researchers included Anne Bassett, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto; Linda Brzustowicz, M.D., Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience and Department of Genetics, Rutgers University, and Department of Psychiatry, New Jersey Medical School; and Judy Flax, Ph.D., and Paula Tallal, Ph.D., both with the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers University.

The Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development annually reviews research published on early childhood development by teams of investigators that include at least one member based in a Canadian institution. From this pool, 10 studies are selected as the year's best. CEECD is one of five Canadian Centres of Excellence for Children's Well-Being and is funded by Health Canada.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa College of Public Health Office of Communications, 4257 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242.

CONTACT(S): Media: Debra Venzke, 319-335-9647,