Gregory Allan Wray


Professor of Biology

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).

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Professor of Biology
  • Professor of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics
  • Professor of Cell Biology
  • Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 125 Science Drive, 4104 French Family Science Center, Durham, NC 27708
  • Office Phone: (919) 684-6696
  • Email Address:
  • Websites:


  • Ph.D. Duke University, 1987
  • B.S. College of William and Mary, 1981

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • AAAS Fellow. American Association for the Advancement of Science. 2019
  • Distinguished Visiting Professor. University of Miami. 2018
  • Houpt Lecture in Genome Sciences. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 2012
  • Huck Lecture in Molecular Evolution. Pennsylvania State University. 2010
  • Daniel Koshland Lecture. University of California at Berkeley. 2009
  • Donald Abbott Lecture. Stanford University, Hopkins Marine Lab. 2004
  • J. B. Johnson Lecture. Society for Neuroscience. 2001
  • Young Investigator in Molecular Evolution. Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 1995
  • NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship. National Institutes of Health. 1988
  • Graduate Research Fellowship. National Science Foundation. 1982

Courses Taught

  • BIOLOGY 203L: Gateway to Biology: Molecular Biology, Genetics & Evolution
  • BIOLOGY 293: Research Independent Study
  • BIOLOGY 325: Current Technologies in Genomics and Precision Medicine
  • BIOLOGY 493: Research Independent Study
  • BIOLOGY 750S: Introduction to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Anti-Racism in Biology
  • BIOLOGY 790S: Special Topics Seminar
  • BIOLOGY 792: Research
  • BIOLOGY 799: Internship
  • BIOTRAIN 730: Data Visualization for Biomedical Sciences
  • MGM 325: Current Technologies in Genomics and Precision Medicine

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Byrne, M; Koop, D; Strbenac, D; Cisternas, P; Yang, JYH; Davidson, PL; Wray, G, Transcriptomic analysis of Nodal - and BMP- associated genes during development to the juvenile seastar in Parvulastra exigua (Asterinidae)., Marine Genomics, vol 59 (2021) [10.1016/j.margen.2021.100857] [abs].
  • Benito-Kwiecinski, S; Giandomenico, SL; Sutcliffe, M; Riis, ES; Freire-Pritchett, P; Kelava, I; Wunderlich, S; Martin, U; Wray, GA; McDole, K; Lancaster, MA, An early cell shape transition drives evolutionary expansion of the human forebrain., Cell, vol 184 no. 8 (2021), pp. 2084-2102.e19 [10.1016/j.cell.2021.02.050] [abs].
  • Markunas, AM; Manivannan, PKR; Ezekian, JE; Agarwal, A; Eisner, W; Alsina, K; Allen, HD; Wray, GA; Kim, JJ; Wehrens, XHT; Landstrom, AP, TBX5-encoded T-box transcription factor 5 variant T223M is associated with long QT syndrome and pediatric sudden cardiac death., Am J Med Genet A, vol 185 no. 3 (2021), pp. 923-929 [10.1002/ajmg.a.62037] [abs].
  • Song, H; Guo, X; Sun, L; Wang, Q; Han, F; Wang, H; Wray, GA; Davidson, P; Wang, Q; Hu, Z; Zhou, C; Yu, Z; Yang, M; Feng, J; Shi, P; Zhou, Y; Zhang, L; Zhang, T, The hard clam genome reveals massive expansion and diversification of inhibitors of apoptosis in Bivalvia., Bmc Biology, vol 19 no. 1 (2021) [10.1186/s12915-020-00943-9] [abs].