Staff Members


Associate Professor, Yale Child Health Research Center
Departments of Pediatrics, Genetics, and Investigative Medicine
Yale School of Medicine

jeff.fwDr. Gruen has received continuous funding from the NIH for dyslexia research since 1999. He currently has an NIH grant to develop a pre-symptomatic genetic screening panel for identifying children at risk for developing reading disability, utilizing the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a sample of over 10,000 children collected in the Avon region of the UK. In the 2005 annual breakthrough edition of the journal Science, the discovery of DCDC2 for dyslexia headed by Dr. Gruen, was named the 5th most important breakthrough of the year. In 2009, Dr. Gruen received a generous grant from the Manton Foundation to study genetics and dyslexia in minority children. This study, the GRaD Study (Genes, Reading and Dyslexia) is currently enrolling children ages 8-15 with and without reading problems.


Recent Presentations:

Dyslexia Videocast

Associate Director
Yale School of Medicine
Department of Pediatrics


Joan brings over 13 years’ experience in managing clinical trials here at Yale University. She served as Project Director for the CT Early Development Project an epidemiological study of child development, the Yale Cancer Center and the Department of Pediatrics in Endocrinology, specifically Type I diabetes continuous glucose monitoring. She also serves as a founding trustee for Elm City Montessori School, a public Montessori school in New Haven. Her combination of experience in epidemiological, educational and medical research makes her uniquely qualified to direct this groundbreaking project.


203.785.2376 (office)
203.464.1535 (cell)

Associate Professor
Brock University

FrijtersFacultyPhotoDr. Frijters is an Applied Developmental Psychologist with an interest in the role that motivational, volitional, and relationship factors have in children’s learning. His specific research interests lie in the interface between academic skills and non-cognitive determinants of skill growth. This work extends into the area of learning disabilities, investigating how children’s motivation, self-regulatory skills and alliance with remedial teachers help them benefit from remedial reading instruction. He also has a passion for quantitative research methods, especially for techniques such as multilevel modeling, person-centred, and structural approaches that can help sort out how developmental processes unfold over time and within specific learning contexts. Another research interest is currently developing along different lines, reading the aesthetic and cinematic constructions of children and youth.


Phone (905) 688-5550, ext. 4219

Faculty page at Brock University.

Lab Team

Andrew graduated magna cum laude from Duquesne University in 2014 with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and accompanying minors in Mathematics and Biochemistry. That same year, he entered Yale University’s combined graduate program in Biological and Biomedical Sciences in pursuit of a PhD. Joining the Department of Genetics and the Gruen Lab in 2015, his work focuses on understanding the genetic underpinnings of reading and language disorders.

melissa.fwMellissa graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in biology. She went to graduate school at the University of California at Berkeley and received a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology. She has worked on the genetics of Neuropsychiatric disorders at the University of California at San Francisco and at Yale University. She is interested in the way that subtle changes in the regulation of genes may contribute to development of Dyslexia.

katherine.fwKatherine graduated from Princeton University in 2008 with an A.B. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, where she studied steroid hormones and behavior in free-ranging baboons in Kenya. She received an M.A. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota in 2013. Before starting medical school in 2014, she worked as a research assistant at the University of Minnesota, where she published multiple papers on the effects of schizophrenia and cannabis use disorder on the developing brain. Katherine is beginning her second year of medical school at Yale, and currently studying the association between genetics and neuroimaging markers in children with and without dyslexia.

Nhu is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in the lab. She received her Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Connecticut in 2014 under the mentorship of R. Holly Fitch where she studied neuroanatomical and genetic correlates of reading- and language- related disability. Nhu’s main focus in the Gruen lab is to interrogate gene-gene and gene-environment interactions within the GRaD study with the ultimate goal to include neuroimaging to study the complex interplay between genetics, environment, neurobiology, and behavior in the development of language and reading disability.

Research Team

luz.fwLuz has been a resident of New Haven since 1994. Born of immigrant parents and raised in a bi-lingual household in South Bronx, New York. Luz joins us after having worked with CARE (Community Alliance for Research and Engagement) where she built relationships with leaders, other residents, and organizations in assigned neighborhoods of the Hill and Fair Haven, by developing/implementing health activities with community residents and neighborhood groups; churches, social work agencies, schools to become more active and healthy.

Research Assistant

devon.fwDevon graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2008 with a B.A. in Human Development and Family Studies. She completed her graduate studies at Liberty University and received a M.A. in Health and Wellness in 2012. As a research assistant, she administers the cognitive battery of reading tests, and aids in the recruitment of study participants. Devon holds a strong interest in the promotion of health and wellness, and hopes to pursue a career in this field.


connie.fwConstance has a BA and BS from Southern Connecticut State University in psychology and therapeutic recreation. She is a member of Psi Chi and Golden Key. She has been working at Yale University as a research assistant since 2008 working on different projects. For this study she will be working on the cognitive battery tests and recruitment.


Research Assistant

heidi.fwHeidi has taught all ages of students in science museums throughout Conn., including Yale University’s Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium and the Peabody Museum of Natural History. She has a Master’s degree in Education from the University of New Haven. As a research assistant, Heidi administers the cognitive battery of reading tests and recruits study participants.

Research Assistant

charlie.fwCharles has more years of experience working with children, young adults and families than he’d like to admit to.  He taught elementary school, but spent most of his career at Yale on research projects that included genetic family studies of Tourette’s syndrome, OCD, and asthma. He also worked on the CT Epilepsy study and project CARE (childhood nutrition).  He never tires of interacting with the people who volunteer to participate in research.

Research Assistant

Jocelyn graduated from Albertus Magnus College with a B.A. in Child Development. She completed her graduate studies at Liberty University and received a M.Ed. in Teaching and Learning. She has worked on various research projects at Yale University including the GRaD Study (Genes, Reading and Dyslexia Study), the Infant-Toddler Social-Emotional Development Project, and the Connecticut Early Development Project.  She has considerable experience in the administration of children’s standardized cognitive and developmental assessments, conducting of diagnostic interviews, and recruitment of potential subjects. Jocelyn is bilingual in Spanish and English.

(203) 747-8987 ext. 102

Research Assistant

kai.fwKai M. Perry has acquired considerable experience in the fields of youth development, urban education, and social justice.  Kai spent five years as a project coordinator for the Yale-Bridgeport GEAR UP Partnership, a psycho-social college readiness program for a cohort of over 1200 children.  She earned her B.A. in Psychology from Hampton University, M.A. in Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University, and is presently pursing a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at the University of Connecticut. Kai’s research experience in educational psychology, and demonstrated commitment to working with youth and families in urban settings make her a valuable member of our team.