Understanding Edison

Researcher finds link between genetics, learning disorders

Everyone knows Thomas Edison was a brilliant scientist.

Most people don't know he was dyslexic.

Kicked out of school because he was "dumb," the inventor of the phonograph, motion picture camera and light bulb also struggled with words and speech.

A researcher at the UNMC Munroe-Meyer Institute may have the answer as to why.

 Shelley Smith, PhD

Shelley Smith, PhD, along with Mabel Rice, PhD, of the University of Kansas and Javier Gayán, PhD, of Neocodex in Seville, Spain, recently discovered a link between a particular gene and language impairment.

The "KIAA0319" gene on chromosome 6 had previously been associated with reading disability. The new finding shows it can affect both reading and language.

"It has been thought that reading disability, language impairment and speech disorder were entirely separate conditions, and they are usually diagnosed separately and treated separately," Dr. Smith said. "This finding confirms that there are common factors."

Read more about Dr. Smith's research findings.