Dean Hamer, Ph.D., seeks the genes that guide human behavior. In the early 1990's, that research led him to link a chunk of DNA to male homosexuality. Hamer and his work were instantly celebrated by some and subjected to the harshest criticism by others. In his lab at the National Cancer Institute, Hamer’s response has been the search for genes linked to other behaviors; he wonders if cigarette smoking, addiction, taking risks or even happiness may be at least partly determined by our genes. An intensely controversial approach, Hamer’s research addresses the deepest questions of who we are.
Dr. Dean Hamer was born in Montclair, NJ. He received his B.A. from Trinity College, Connecticut and his Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School . He has worked at the National Institutes of Health for 24 years, where he is currently the Chief of the Section on Gene Structure and Regulation in the Laboratory of Biochemistry of the National Cancer Institute.
Dr. Hamer's research has led to contributions in a variety of areas including recombinant DNA, drug and vaccine production, and gene regulation. He was a coinventor of animal cell gene transfer, and recently has begun a program on molecular therapeutics for HIV/AIDS. For the past nine years, Dr. Hamer has studied the role of inheritance in human behavior, personality traits, and cancer risk-related behaviors such as cigarette smoking. His discovery of genetic links to sexual orientation and the temperamental traits of sensation seeking and anxiety have changed the way we think about human behavior and raise a host of important scientific, social and ethical issues.
Dr. Hamer has published over 100 scientific papers and holds three patents in the biotechnology area. His book, The Science of Desire, co-authored with journalist Peter Copeland, has won widespread critical acclaim and was a 1994 New York Times "Notable Book of the Year". Their new book, Living With Our Genes, is a science best seller. Dr. Hamer's research has been described in Discover magazine and other national publications.
Image and bio information courtesy of Dean Hamer's home page.
National Cancer Institute