• Dr Dianne Newbury

    BSc, DPhil

    Senior Lecturer

    Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

    Faculty of Health and Life Sciences


    Phone number: (01865) 483015

    Email: diannenewbury@brookes.ac.uk

    Location: Gipsy Lane, Sinclair, S306b

    I am a senior lecturer on the MSc Medical Genetics and Genomics programme and I am principal investigator of a research lab in the Department of Health and Life Sciences.

    Dianne teaches genetics and genomics to undergraduates and post-graduates

    Modules taught

    P10112: Molecular Basis of Human Genetic Disease

    P10114: Clinical Genetics and Diagnostics

    P10199: MSc research project

    U14520: Molecular Biology and Genetics

    U14592: Molecular Medicine

    U14675: Experimental Based Medicine and Diagnostics

    U14699: Undergraduate research projects


    MSc Medical Genetics and Genomics programme

    Research in my lab centres around genetic contributions to speech, language and Communication Disorders (SLCDs). A recent study found that, at school entry in the UK, approximately 10% of children are affected by speech, language or communication impairments (Norbury et al., 2016). As a group these children are less likely to meet educational targets (Norbury et al., 2015) and more likely to display symptoms of social, emotional and behavioural problems when compared to their peers (Norbury et al., 2016).

    But yet, we do not know why some children have language difficulties or how these difficulties relate to other aspects of neurodevelopment and behaviour. In our lab, we are trying to identify genetic factors that might play a role in these disorders. We investigate this problem through a mixture of research questions and by studying individuals, families and populations.

    This research is important because it will help us to understand why some children have language difficulties and what brain processes are important in language learning. It may allow us to identify new kinds of language disorders and will clarify the relationships between language impairment and other developmental disorders.

    Research group membership

    Hayley Mountford (post-doc) p0083144

    Lidiya Nevedska (PhD student) 16034238

    Nuala Simpson (post-doc) p0084691

    Research grants and awards

    Research Excellence (CRF) award – Functional characterisation of RIC3 in backwards speech. Aug 2016-Jan 2017

    ESRC Newton Award - A language and reading intervention programme for Chile, piloted in the Robinson Crusoe population. Feb 2016 – Oct 2018

    Research projects

    Studies show that developmental language disorders run in families - a brother or sister of someone who has already been diagnosed will have an increased risk of developing the disorder themselves. There are two possible situations which may explain this observation: (1) something in the family environment causes the language disorder; or (2) Developmental language disorders are genetic and is therefore caused (at least in part) by the genes passed on from parents to children.

    Although there is strong evidence for the role of a genetic component in language disorder, we do not know which genes contribute to this disorder or how the inheritance of language problems work. In most cases, it is likely that several genes combine to bring about a heightened risk of disorder. This is known as a complex genetic disorder. Working closely with other collaborators active in this field, we aim to identify specific genetic variants that cause this predisposition and to investigate the kinds of biological processes that they take part in.

    The work in our lab is split into different project areas. You can find out more about each area on our research website.

    Research impact

    Our research impacts upon our understanding of the biological processes underlying speech and language development. This will be relevant to families of affected individuals and has impact upon research in psychology, neuroscience and education.

    Journal articles

    • Mountford HS, Newbury DF, 'The Genomic Landscape of Language Disorders: Insights into Evolution'
      Journal of Language Evolution (2018)
      ISSN: 2058-4571 eISSN: 2058-4571
      Abstract Website
    • De Barbieri Z, Fernandez MA, Newbury DF, Villanueva P, 'Family aggregation of Language Impairment in an Isolated Chilean Population from the Robinson Crusoe Island'
      International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders (2018)
      ISSN: 1368-2822 eISSN: 1368-2822
      Abstract Website
    • Newbury DF, Simpson NH, Thompson PA, Bishop DVM, 'Stage 1 Registered Report: Variation in neurodevelopmental outcomes in children with sex chromosome trisomies: protocol for a test of the double hit hypothesis'
      Wellcome Open Research 3 (10) (2018)
      ISSN: 2398-502X eISSN: 2398-502X
      Abstract Website
    • Devanna P, Chen S, Ho J,Gajewski D, Smith SD, Gialluisi A, Francks C, Fisher SE, Newbury DF, Vernes SC, 'Next-gen sequencing identifies non-coding variation disrupting miRNA binding sites in neurological disorders'
      Molecular Psychiatry (2017)
      ISSN: 1359-4184 eISSN: 1359-4184
      Abstract Website
    • Chen XS, Reader RH, Hoischen A, Veltman JA, Simpson NH, Francks C, Newbury DF, Fisher SE, 'Next-generation DNA sequencing identifies novel gene variants and pathways involved in specific language impairment'
      Scientific Reports 7 (2017)
      ISSN: 2045-2322 eISSN: 2045-2322
      Abstract Website
    • Grabitz CR, Button KS, Munafò MR, Newbury DF, Pernet CR, Thompson PA,Bishop DVM, 'Logical and methodological issues affecting genetic studies of humans reported in top neuroscience journals'
      Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 30 (1) (2017) pp.25-41
      ISSN: 0898-929X eISSN: 0898-929X
      Abstract Website
    • Pettigrew KA, Frinton E, Nudel R, Chan MTM, Thompson P, Hayiou-Thomas ME, Talcott JB, Stein J, Monaco AP, Hulme C, Snowling MJ, Newbury DF, Paracchini S, 'Further evidence for a parent-of-origin effect at the NOP9 locus on language-related phenotypes'
      Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders 8 (24) (2016) pp.1-8
      ISSN: 1866-1947 eISSN: 1866-1947
      Abstract Website
    • Shore R, Covill L, Pettigrew KA, Brandler WM, Diaz R, Xu Y, Tello JA, Talcott JB, Newbury DF, Stein J, Monaco AP, Paracchini S., 'The handedness-associated PCSK6 locus spans an intronic promoter regulating novel transcripts'
      Human Molecular Genetics (2016)
      ISSN: 0964-6906 eISSN: 0964-6906
      Abstract Website
    • Prekovic S, Đurđević DF, Csifcsák G, Šveljo O, Stojković O, Janković M, Koprivšek K, Covill LE, Lučić M, Van den Broeck T, Helsen C, Ceroni F, Claessens F, Newbury DF, 'Multidisciplinary investigation links backward-speech trait and working memory through genetic mutation.'
      Scientific Reports 6 (2016) pp.1-15
      ISSN: 2045-2322 eISSN: 2045-2322
      Abstract Website

    Pre-2016 publications - See research website.

    Areas of expertise

    Gene mapping (linkage, association, sequencing)

    Speech and language disorders

    Neurodevelopmental disorders

    Membership of professional bodies

    MRC College of Reviewers for the Newton Fund.

    International Scientific Advisory board for the University of Connecticut

    Scientific Advisor for the Press and Information Office at the University of Oxford.


    See presentations page on research website

    Other experience

    University Reseach Lecturer at Oxford University

    MRC career Development Fellow

    Junior Research Fellow, St Johns College

    Tutorial Fellow, Somerville College