Gregory Allan Wray

Professor of Biology

125 Science Drive, 4104 French Family Science Center, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Duke Box 90325, Durham, NC 27708-0325
(919) 684-6696
I study the evolution of genes and genomes with the broad aim of understanding the origins of biological diversity. My approach focuses on changes in the expression of genes using both empirical and computational approaches and spans scales of biological organization from single nucleotides through gene networks to entire genomes. At the finer end of this spectrum of scale, I am focusing on understanding the functional consequences and fitness components of specific genetic variants within regulatory sequences of several genes associated with ecologically relevant traits. At the other end of the scale, I am developing molecular and analytical methods to detect changes in gene function throughout entire genomes, including statistical frameworks for detecting natural selection on regulatory elements and empirical approaches to identify functional variation in transcriptional regulation. At intermediate scales, I am investigating functional variation within a dense gene network in the context of wild populations and natural perturbations. My research leverages the advantages of several different model systems, but primarily focuses on sea urchins and primates (including humans).


  • Ph.D., Duke University 1987

  • B.S., College of William and Mary 1981

Wray, GA. "Developmental Genes and the Evolution of Morphology." In Palaeobiology II, 147-152. December 13, 2007. Full Text

Oulhen, N, Foster, S, Wray, G, and Wessel, G. "Identifying gene expression from single cells to single genes." (2019). Full Text

Eisthen, HL, Halanych, KM, Kelley, DB, White, SA, Phelps, SM, and 66 additional authors, . "New NSF policy will stifle innovation." Science (New York, N.Y.) 362, no. 6412 (October 2018): 297-298. (Letter) Full Text

Bryois, J, Garrett, ME, Song, L, Safi, A, Giusti-Rodriguez, P, Johnson, GD, Shieh, AW, Buil, A, Fullard, JF, Roussos, P, Sklar, P, Akbarian, S, Haroutunian, V, Stockmeier, CA, Wray, GA, White, KP, Liu, C, Reddy, TE, Ashley-Koch, A, Sullivan, PF, and Crawford, GE. "Evaluation of chromatin accessibility in prefrontal cortex of individuals with schizophrenia." Nature Communications 9, no. 1 (August 7, 2018): 3121-null. Full Text

Pizzollo, J, Nielsen, WJ, Shibata, Y, Safi, A, Crawford, GE, Wray, GA, and Babbitt, CC. "Comparative Serum Challenges Show Divergent Patterns of Gene Expression and Open Chromatin in Human and Chimpanzee." Genome Biology and Evolution 10, no. 3 (March 2018): 826-839. Full Text Open Access Copy

Byrne, M, Koop, D, Morris, VB, Chui, J, Wray, GA, and Cisternas, P. "Expression of genes and proteins of the pax-six-eya-dach network in the metamorphic sea urchin: Insights into development of the enigmatic echinoderm body plan and sensory structures." Developmental Dynamics : an Official Publication of the American Association of Anatomists 247, no. 1 (January 2018): 239-249. Full Text

Singh, A, Pinto, L, Martin, C, Rutherford, N, Ragunathan, A, Upadhyay, U, Kapoor, P, McRae, M, Siddiqui, A, Cantelmi, D, Heyland, A, Wray, G, and Stone, JR. "Rudiment resorption as a response to starvation during larval development in the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis." Canadian Journal of Zoology 96, no. 10 (January 1, 2018): 1178-1185. Full Text

Linchangco, GV, Foltz, DW, Reid, R, Williams, J, Nodzak, C, Kerr, AM, Miller, AK, Hunter, R, Wilson, NG, Nielsen, WJ, Mah, CL, Rouse, GW, Wray, GA, and Janies, DA. "The phylogeny of extant starfish (Asteroidea: Echinodermata) including Xyloplax, based on comparative transcriptomics." Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 115 (October 2017): 161-170. Full Text Open Access Copy

Babbitt, CC, Haygood, R, Nielsen, WJ, and Wray, GA. "Gene expression and adaptive noncoding changes during human evolution." BMC genomics 18, no. 1 (June 5, 2017): 435-. Full Text

Koop, D, Cisternas, P, Morris, VB, Strbenac, D, Yang, JYH, Wray, GA, and Byrne, M. "Nodal and BMP expression during the transition to pentamery in the sea urchin Heliocidaris erythrogramma: insights into patterning the enigmatic echinoderm body plan." Bmc Developmental Biology 17, no. 1 (February 13, 2017): 4-null. Full Text

Runcie, DE, Dorey, N, Garfield, DA, Stumpp, M, Dupont, S, and Wray, GA. "Genomic Characterization of the Evolutionary Potential of the Sea Urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis Facing Ocean Acidification." Genome Biology and Evolution 8, no. 12 (December 2016): 3672-3684. Full Text Open Access Copy


Babbitt, CC, Pfefferle, LW, Crawford, GE, and Wray, GA. "Evolution of gene expression network underlying a disease state." April 2015.

Bauernfeind, AL, Reyzer, ML, Caprioli, RM, Ely, JJ, Babbitt, CC, Wray, GA, Hof, PR, and Sherwood, CC. "Differences in energy metabolism in the brains of humans and chimpanzees: a study of protein expression." March 2015.

Bauernfeind, AL, Soderblom, EJ, Turner, ME, Moseley, AM, Ely, JJ, Hof, PR, Sherwood, CC, Wray, GA, and Babbitt, CC. "Differential gene and protein expression in the human and chimpanzee brain: A comparison using high-throughput techniques." March 2014.

Runcie, DE, Garfield, DA, Babbitt, CC, Pfefferle, A, Nielsen, WJ, and Wray, GA. "Phenotypic plasticity and the developmental regulatory network in the purple sea urchin." 2013.

Babbitt, CC, Pfefferle, LW, Fedrigo, O, and Wray, GA. "Conservation and function of noncoding RNAs in primate evolution." April 2012.

Horvath, JE, Wu, C, Toler, M, Fedrigo, O, Pfefferle, LW, Moore, A, Ramachandran, GL, Babbitt, CC, Jernvall, J, Wray, GA, and Wall, CE. "Enamel thickness in Microcebus murinus and Macaca mulana and the evolutionary genetics of enamel matrix proteins in hominoids." 2012.


Selected Grants

Embryonic Cell Recognition: Specificity Determinants awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co-Principal Investigator). 1980 to 2023

Summer Scholars Program in Genome Sciences and Medicine awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co-Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2022

Postdoctoral Training in Genomic Medicine Research awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2017 to 2022

Training Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2001 to 2022

Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Training Program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2005 to 2021

NRT: Integrative Bioinformatics for Investigating and Engineering Microbiomes (IBIEM) awarded by National Science Foundation (Co-Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2020

Genetics Training Grant awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 1979 to 2020

Organization and Function of Cellular Structure awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 1975 to 2020

Decoding schizophrenia-From GWAS to functional regulatory variants awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2014 to 2019

Impacts of the African Origin of Plasmodium vivax on Contemporary Parasite Populations awarded by University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2019