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Dean Hamer
Born 1951 (age 58–59)
Nationality USA
Fields Genetics
Institutions National Cancer Institute
Known for Xq28

Dr. Dean Hamer (born 1951) is an American geneticist. Hamer is the director of the Gene Structure and Regulation Unit at the U.S. National Cancer Institute (part of the National Institutes of Health).



He obtained his BA at Trinity College, CT, U.S. and his Ph.D from Harvard Medical School. He has won numerous awards including the Maryland Distinguished Young Scientist Award and the Ariens Kappers Award for Neurobiology.

Studies on sexual orientation

In the 1990s Hamer began studies of the role of genes in human behavior. In 1993 he published a paper suggesting the existence of genes that predispose men (but not women) toward homosexuality and presented evidence that one of these genes was associated with the Xq28 marker on the X chromosome.[1] This finding was replicated in two studies in the United States but not in several others, including a study performed by researchers at the University of Western Ontario in Canada; meta-analysis indicated Xq28 has a significant but not exclusive effect.[2] [3] [4] Subsequently, several additional linked regions on other chromosomes have been described. [5]

Other studies and scientific work

In 1996, Hamer and colleagues investigated the genetic roots of anxiety and found that the gene for the serotonin transporter, which is the target of antidepressant drugs such as Prozac, is partially responsible.[6] This polymorphism has been extensively replicated and its activity has been confirmed by direct brain imaging studies.[7] More recently, Hamer has postulated the existence of a God gene for religious experience. This work, which was featured on the cover of Time magazine, has been controversial.

Currently Hamer is conducting research into the field of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) microbicides and HIV latency. This work involves engineering and animal model testing of a live microbial microbicide. By engineering a non-pathogenic endrogenous strain of E. coli (Nissle 1917) to secrete HIV fusion inhibiting peptides on the sexual mucosa of patients Hamer hopes to create a long-lasting, transparent, barrier to HIV infection.[8]

In addition to his scientific work, he has published a number of popular science books aimed at a general readership, is the holder of several patents, and produces documentary films.[9]


  • The Science of Desire: The Search for the Gay Gene and the Biology of Behavior (Simon and Schuster, 1994) ISBN 0-684-80446-8
  • Living with Our Genes: Why They Matter More Than You Think with Peter Copeland (Anchor, 1999) ISBN 0-385-48584-0
  • The God Gene: How Faith Is Hardwired into our Genes (Doubleday, 2004) ISBN 0-385-50058-0

See also


  1. ^ Hamer DH, Hu S, Magnuson VL, Hu N, Pattatucci AM (July 1993). "A linkage between DNA markers on the X chromosome and male sexual orientation". Science (journal) 261 (5119): 321–7. PMID 8332896. 
  2. ^ Hu S, Pattatucci AM, Patterson C, et al. (November 1995). "Linkage between sexual orientation and chromosome Xq28 in males but not in females". Nat. Genet. 11 (3): 248–56. doi:10.1038/ng1195-248. PMID 7581447. 
  3. ^ Rice G, Anderson C, Risch N, Ebers G (April 1999). "Male homosexuality: absence of linkage to microsatellite markers at Xq28". Science (journal) 284 (5414): 665–7. PMID 10213693. 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Mustanski BS, Dupree MG, Nievergelt CM, Bocklandt S, Schork NJ, Hamer DH (March 2005). "A genomewide scan of male sexual orientation". Hum. Genet. 116 (4): 272–8. doi:10.1007/s00439-004-1241-4. PMID 15645181. 
  6. ^ Lesch KP, Bengel D, Heils A, et al. (November 1996). "Association of anxiety-related traits with a polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene regulatory region". Science (journal) 274 (5292): 1527–31. PMID 8929413. 
  7. ^ Hamer D (October 2002). "Genetics. Rethinking behavior genetics". Science (journal) 298 (5591): 71–2. doi:10.1126/science.1077582. PMID 12364769. 
  8. ^ Rao S, Hu S, McHugh L, et al. (August 2005). "Toward a live microbial microbicide for HIV: commensal bacteria secreting an HIV fusion inhibitor peptide". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 102 (34): 11993–8. doi:10.1073/pnas.0504881102. PMID 16040799. 
  9. ^ URL:

External links

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