Sally E. Shaywitz, M.D
Audrey G. Ratner Professor in Learning Development
Sally E. Shaywitz, M.D., is the Audrey G. Ratner Professor in Learning Development at Yale University and co-director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity.
As a physician-scientist Dr. Shaywitz carries out the cutting-edge research to advance the science of dyslexia while also devoting herself to caring for children and adults who are dyslexic; her studies provide the basic framework and details for the 21st century scientific understanding of dyslexia.
Dr. Shaywitz’s ongoing neurobiological and longitudinal epidemiological studies track a population-based cohort from kindergarten entry to mature adulthood and have provided contemporary knowledge of the prevalence, gender composition, universality and precursors, persistence and long-term outcome of dyslexia. Dyslexia is highly prevalent, affecting 17.5%–21% of the population, and represents over 80% of all learning disabilities. Dr. Shaywitz’s more recent studies have provided the long-sought empiric evidence for the unexpected nature of dyslexia. Dr. Shaywitz is currently studying reading and dyslexia in a disadvantaged population attending a public charter school system, and in disadvantaged students attending a public charter school specialized for dyslexia. In a recent paper published in the November, 2015, issue of Journal of Pediatrics she found that the “Achievement Gap in Reading Is Present as Early as First Grade and Persists Through Adolescence.” Another recent study focuses on the development of vocabulary in dyslexic children. She has developed a new instrument, the Shaywitz DyslexiaScreenTM (SDS, Pearson) for use by teachers to efficiently and reliably screen kindergartners and first graders for dyslexia, which was released October 2016. Studies in progress examine the economic and personal impact of dyslexia on adults, and the relationship between measures of adult literacy and the reading of those same adults as children.
Dr. Shaywitz is the author of over 250 scientific articles and chapters, as well as the award-winning book Overcoming Dyslexia (Alfred Knopf, 2003, Vintage, 2005), which details fundamental scientific findings on dyslexia and how to translate this scientific knowledge into policy and clinical practice. The book has been translated into numerous languages, including Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese, Korean and Mandarin, and is the recipient of the Margot Marek Book Award and the NAMI Book Award. In addition to critical acclaim, Overcoming Dyslexia has been the top-selling trade book on dyslexia since its publication.
An elected member of the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Shaywitz is annually selected as one of the Best Doctors in America. Her awards include, among others, an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Williams College; the Townsend Harris Medal of the City College of New York; the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the Achievement Award in Women’s Health from the Society for the Advancement of Women’s Health Research, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Sidney Berman Award.
Dr. Shaywitz has served on the congressionally mandated National Reading Panel and the Committee to Prevent Reading Difficulties in Young Children of the National Research Council and, by Presidential appointment (President George W. Bush and President Barak Obama), on the National Board for Education Sciences within the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. She has also spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Dr. Shaywitz testified in May 2016 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) on the topic of “Dyslexia: An Explanation and Potential Solution to the Reading Crisis in Education” and in September 2014 before the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology on the “Science of Dyslexia.” She presented at a congressional briefing sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in September 2015 and to U.S. Senate field hearings in October 2015. In her testimonies, Dr. Shaywitz points out that while we are always seeking new knowledge, in the case of dyslexia, we have sufficient knowledge to do more. Rather than a knowledge gap, in dyslexia there is an action gap. We must take action to implement the deep knowledge we have of dyslexia and ensure that this knowledge is translated into policy and practice.
She also co-chaired the National Research Council Committee on Gender Differences in the Careers of Science, Engineering and Mathematics Faculty; served on the WISC V advisory panel; is a Trustee of the Park Century School and serves on the Advisory Board of the USC Kortschak Center for Learning and Creativity, the Laurel School and the Westmark School. She currently serves on the New Haven Blue Ribbon Commission on Reading, on the Advisory Board of the Adult Literacy XPRIZE, Chicago Public Library Early Learning Advisory Group, on the Dyslexia Guidelines Work Group of the California Department of Education and on the Board of the Louisiana Key Academy Dyslexia Resource Center. She has served on the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the National Research Council Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine (CWSEM), as Chair for Steering Committee for AXXS Workshop; Committee on Women in Science and Engineering, Policy and Global Affairs Division, National Research Council; and the Scientific Advisory Board of the March of Dimes.
In 2008, Shaywitz was named the first Audrey G. Ratner Professor in Learning Development at the Yale University School of Medicine. Audrey Ratner, a former special-reading teacher, is the wife of Albert B. Ratner, co-chairman of the Cleveland-based real estate developer Forest City Enterprises. The professorship was established with a $3 million family gift honoring Ratner’s lifelong interest in reading disorders.
Dr. Shaywitz received her B.A. (with honors) from the City University of New York, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and her M.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She completed her pediatric training, including a fellowship in Developmental–Behavioral Pediatrics, at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Bennett A. Shaywitz, M.D
Professor of Pediatrics & Neurology, Chief of Pediatric Neurology
Bennett A. Shaywitz, M.D., the Charles and Helen Schwab Professor in Dyslexia and Learning Development, is the Chief of Pediatric Neurology and Co-Director of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity at the Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Shaywitz received his B.A. from Washington University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and his M.D. from Washington University School of Medicine. He completed his pediatric training, including serving as Chief Resident, and then a postdoctoral fellowship in Child Neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Shaywitz has a long-standing interest in disorders of learning and attention in children and young adults. He has devoted his career to better understanding and elucidating the neurobiological basis of reading and dyslexia and to ensuring that this new knowledge is translated into the better care and treatment of children and adults who are dyslexic. Early on, Dr. Shaywitz recognized the great potential of functional brain imaging and led a national effort to apply functional imaging, especially functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to the study of reading and dyslexia in children and adults. He has made major contributions to understanding the neurobiology, specifically the brain organization for reading, including the identification and localization of specific neural systems for reading; delineation of differences in these systems between good and poor readers (including a neural signature for dyslexia); the functional role of the system for fluency; the finding of at least two neurobiological subtypes of reading disability (one, primarily inherent; the other, more environmentally influenced); and the demonstration of plasticity in the neural systems for reading and their ability to reorganize in response to an effective, evidence-based intervention.
The author of over 300 scientific papers, Dr. Shaywitz has received many honors for his contributions to the understanding of the basic neurobiology of reading and dyslexia, including election to membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, Distinguished Alumnus Award from Washington University, the Annie Glenn Award for Leadership from Ohio State University, and by selection to deliver the New York University Medical Scientist Training Program Honors Lecture. Dr. Shaywitz was also selected, along with Dr. Sally Shaywitz, as recipient of the Haggerty-Friedman Distinguished Lectureship at the University of Rochester; the Lawrence G. Crowley Distinguished Lectureship at Stanford University; the Waldo E. Nelson lectureship at St. Christopher’s Children Hospital; the Leonard Apt Lectureship of the American Academy of Pediatrics; and the Sidney Berman Award for the Study and Treatment of Learning Disabilities presented by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Each year Dr. Shaywitz has been chosen one of the “Best Doctors in America,” one of “America’s Top Doctors,” and one of “New York’s Top Doctors.” Castle Connolly Medical, America’s trusted source for identifying top doctors, has selected Dr. Shaywitz for its 16th and 17th editions of “Top Doctors: New York Metro Area.” Dr. Shaywitz currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the March of Dimes; he also currently serves on the National Vaccine Program Office Safety Subcommittee and has served on the Institute of Medicine Immunization Safety Review Committee. Dr. Shaywitz sits on the editorial board of Pediatrics in Review, Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal, and Child Neuropsychology.