Dr Dianne Newbury

BSc, DPhil

Senior Lecturer

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences


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.

Areas of expertise: 

  • Gene mapping (linkage, association, sequencing)
  • Speech and language disorders
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders

Member of the Children and Young People Network.

Teaching and supervision


Modules taught

I am the module leader on:

  • Clinical Genetics and Diagnostics (BIOS7006)
  • Masters research project (BIOS7009)

I also teach on:

  • Scientific Skills (BIOS4004)
  • Professional and experimental skills (BIOS4005)
  • Interrogating Genomes (BIOL5002)
  • Molecular Biology (BIOS5011)
  • Genetics (BIOS5012)
  • Molecular Medicine (BIOS6007)
  • Evidence-based medicine (BIOS6008)
  • Neuroscience (BIOS6009)
  • Undergraduate research projects (BIOS6010)
  • Human Genetic Disease (BIOS7004)


MSc Medical Genetics and Genomics programme

Research Students

Name Thesis title Completed
Alison Cotton Special Educational Needs in the children and families of Armed Forces Personnel; are they over-represented and why might this be the case? Active
Gabrielle Mastrolonardo Investigating the functional role of NFXL1 in the developing brain and how it relates to speech and language development Active
Jessica Peixihno Unravelling the genetic relationships between auditory processing and speech and language Active


UoA5: Genetics and Genomics

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)
  • Dr Aditi Pradhan (Post-doc)
  • Lidiya Talbot (PhD student)
  • Jessica Peixihno (PhD student)


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.

Centres and institutes



Projects as Principal Investigator, or Lead Academic if project is led by another Institution

  • Rethinking special educational needs (led by the University of York) (01/05/2023 - 30/04/2026), funded by: Nuffield Foundation, funding amount received by Brookes: £13,470

Projects as Co-investigator

  • Supporting ALL to thrive: Developing a holistic understanding of the impact of Service life on the education of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND/ASN/ALN) and their families.(01/03/2024 - 31/08/2025), funded by: Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, funding amount received by Brookes: £60,000, funded by: Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust
  • The Genetics of Motor Coordination(04/09/2023 - 31/03/2025), funded by: The Waterloo Foundation, funding amount received by Brookes: £59,994, funded by: The Waterloo Foundation


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