Gregory Allan Wray

Professor of Biology

External address: 
125 Science Drive, 4104 French Family Science Center, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
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).

Degrees & Credentials

  • Ph.D., Duke University 1987

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

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

Evolutionary Rewiring of a Developmental Gene Regulatory Network awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2015 to 2018

Impacts of the African Origin of Plasmodium vivax on Contemporary Parasite Populations awarded by University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2018

Decoding schizophrenia-From GWAS to functional regulatory variants awarded by National Institutes of Health (Co Investigator). 2014 to 2018

Doctoral Dissertation Research: Investigation of the Evolution of Human Adipocytes Using iPSCs awarded by National Science Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2017 to 2018


Wray, GA. "Developmental Genes and the Evolution of Morphology." Palaeobiology II. December 13, 2007. 147-152. 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 (July 27, 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 18.1 (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 17.1 (February 13, 2017): 4-. 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 8.12 (December 2016): 3672-3684. Full Text Open Access Copy

Israel, JW, Martik, ML, Byrne, M, Raff, EC, Raff, RA, McClay, DR, and Wray, GA. "Comparative Developmental Transcriptomics Reveals Rewiring of a Highly Conserved Gene Regulatory Network during a Major Life History Switch in the Sea Urchin Genus Heliocidaris." PLoS biology 14.3 (March 4, 2016): e1002391-. Full Text

Janies, DA, Witter, Z, Linchangco, GV, Foltz, DW, Miller, AK, Kerr, AM, Jay, J, Reid, RW, and Wray, GA. "EchinoDB, an application for comparative transcriptomics of deeply-sampled clades of echinoderms." BMC bioinformatics 17 (January 22, 2016): 48-. Full Text Open Access Copy

Dutta, V, Altermann, E, Olson, J, Wray, GA, Siletzky, RM, and Kathariou, S. "Whole-Genome Sequences of Agricultural, Host-Associated Campylobacter coli and Campylobacter jejuni Strains." Genome announcements 4.4 (January 2016). Full Text

Wray, GA. "Molecular clocks and the early evolution of metazoan nervous systems." Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences 370.1684 (December 2015). (Review) Full Text

Byrne, M, Koop, D, Cisternas, P, Strbenac, D, Yang, JYH, and Wray, GA. "Transcriptomic analysis of Nodal- and BMP-associated genes during juvenile development of the sea urchin Heliocidaris erythrogramma." Marine genomics 24 Pt 1 (December 2015): 41-45. Full Text

PsychENCODE Consortium, , Akbarian, S, Liu, C, Knowles, JA, Vaccarino, FM, Farnham, PJ, Crawford, GE, Jaffe, AE, Pinto, D, Dracheva, S, Geschwind, DH, Mill, J, Nairn, AC, Abyzov, A, Pochareddy, S, Prabhakar, S, Weissman, S, Sullivan, PF, State, MW, Weng, Z, Peters, MA, White, KP, Gerstein, MB, Amiri, A, Armoskus, C, Ashley-Koch, AE, Bae, T, Beckel-Mitchener, A, Berman, BP, Coetzee, GA, Coppola, G, Francoeur, N, Fromer, M, Gao, R, Grennan, K, Herstein, J, Kavanagh, DH, Ivanov, NA, and Jiang, Y et al. "The PsychENCODE project." Nature neuroscience 18.12 (December 2015): 1707-1712. (Review) 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.