Denise Kay

Denise M. Kay, PhD

Gene-environment interaction in complex diseases.

The World Within Reach
Denise M. Kay, PhD
Adjunct Professor

School of Public Health
Department: Biomedical Sciences

Research Scientist, Wadsworth Center, Newborn Screening Program
Wadsworth Center, David Axelrod Institute, Room 5102



PhD, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY (2004)
Postdoctoral training: New York State Department of Health, Wadsworth Center

Wadsworth Center Senior Staff Page

Research Interests

Newborn screening, beginning with implementation of the 'PKU test' for phenylketonuria in the early 1960's, is one of the most successful public health programs in the US. Within days of birth, blood samples are collected via heel stick onto Guthrie filter paper cards, and samples are screened for a panel of biomarkers for treatable, congenital disorders.

The goal of newborn screening is to readily identify and rapidly treat, delay or prevent illness, mental retardation, or death. The New York State program at the Wadsworth Center screens all infants born in NYS for more than 40 conditions including metabolic disorders, hemoglobinopathies, congenital hypothyroidism, cystic fibrosis (CF), severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) and lysosomal storage disorders.

Dr. Kay studies the genetics of diseases affecting children, including conditions screened by the newborn screening program, and congenital malformations (birth defects). Her research utilizes both targeted and genome-wide approaches to identify and characterize mutations, susceptibility alleles and interactions in novel and known disease genes and pathways, using genetic, epidemiological, statistical, and bioinformatic approaches.

Ongoing work includes assessment of common disease-associated CF alleles in the diverse NYS population, the study of genotype-phenotype associations in Krabbe disease, and identification of novel risk factors for various congenital malformations.

Other interests include improving existing newborn screening mutation panels and addressing challenges to implementation of next generation sequencing in the newborn screening setting. The ultimate goal is to translate knowledge gained from these studies into routine public health practice.