|Born||29 May 1951
Montclair, New Jersey
|Fields||Genetics, Documentary Film|
|Institutions||National Institutes of Health, Sundance Institute|
|Known for||Xq28, Out in the Silence|
Dean Hamer (born 1951) is an American geneticist, author, and filmmaker. He is known for his contributions to biotechnology and AIDS prevention, his research on the genetics of human behavior including sexual orientation and spirituality, and his popular books and documentaries on a wide range of topics.
Education and career 
Hamer obtained his BA at Trinity College, CT, U.S. and his Ph.D from Harvard Medical School. He was an independent researcher at the National Institutes of Health for 35 years, where he directed the Gene Structure and Regulation Section at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. He has won numerous awards including the Maryland Distinguished Young Scientist Award and the Ariens Kappers Award for Neurobiology.
Biotechnology research 
While still a graduate student at Harvard Medical School, Hamer invented the first method for introducing new genes into animal cells using SV40 vectors. This approach was subsequently used to produce a variety of biomedical products including human growth hormone and a vaccine for Hepatitis B. He was granted 4 U.S. patents for this research.
Human behavior genetics 
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 influence homosexuality in males, and presented evidence that one of these genes is associated with the Xq28 marker on the X chromosome. This finding was replicated in two studies in the United States but not in a third in Canada; meta-analysis indicated Xq28 has a significant but not exclusive effect. Subsequently, several additional linked regions on other chromosomes have been described.
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. This polymorphism has been extensively replicated and its activity has been confirmed by direct brain imaging studies. 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.
HIV/AIDS prevention 
Hamer's lab, in collaboration with Osel, Inc, has developed a new live microbial microbicide approach to HIV/AIDS prevention. By genetically engineering normal vaginal bacteria to produce a potent anti-HIV peptide, significant protection against viral infection was provided in a durable and obtainable fashion for up to one month. The methodology is applicable for both rectaland vaginal use.
Hamer has published a number of popular science books that are aimed at a general readership and have been favorably reviewed in the New York Times, New York Review of Books, and Time magazine.
- 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
Hamer turned to documentary filmmaking to address complex scientific and social issues often overlooked by the mainstream media. In 2005, he and his partner in life and filmmaking Joe Wilson, formed Qwaves with the mission of producing insightful and provocative films that "emanate from the voices of those on the outside, that incite us to abandon our comfortable role as spectators, and that compel us to question and to act." Their films have won numerous awards including winner of the PBS Independent Lens Shorts Festival, winner of the Videomaker National Documentary Film Challenge, and jury and audience awards and official selection at more than 100 film festivals worldwide. Qwaves films were part of the pioneering days of citizen-generated content on the Internet and cable television, and have been used as outreach and educational tools by a wide range of community and educational organizations.
OUT IN THE SILENCE, the first feature film from Qwaves, was supported by the Sundance Documentary Film Program and premiered at the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival at Lincoln Center to critical acclaim. It was broadcast on PBS where it won an Emmy Award for achievement in documentary. Through more than 500 grassroots screenings across the country, this film has become part of a national movement to open dialogue, counter school bullying, and support fairness and equality for all in small towns and rural communities.
In 2011, the OUT IN THE SILENCE YOUTH ACTIVISM AWARD was initiated to highlight the contributions of young people to achieving respect, inclusion and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
He was also featured in comedian Bill Maher's 2008 documentary "Religulous".
See also 
- 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 261 (5119): 321–7. doi:10.1126/science.8332896. PMID 8332896.
- 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.
- Rice G, Anderson C, Risch N, Ebers G (April 1999). "Male homosexuality: absence of linkage to microsatellite markers at Xq28". Science 284 (5414): 665–7. doi:10.1126/science.284.5414.665. PMID 10213693.
- 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.
- 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 274 (5292): 1527–31. doi:10.1126/science.274.5292.1527. PMID 8929413.
- Hamer D (October 2002). "Genetics. Rethinking behavior genetics". Science 298 (5591): 71–2. doi:10.1126/science.1077582. PMID 12364769.
- 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. PMC 1189328. PMID 16040799.
- Lagenaur LA, Sanders-Beer BE, Brichacek B, Pal R, Liu X, Liu Y et al. (2011). "Prevention of vaginal SHIV transmission in macaques by a live recombinant Lactobacillus.". Mucosal Immunol 4 (6). doi:10.1038/mi.2011.30. PMID 21734653.