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Merlin G. Butler, M.D., Ph.D., FFACMG

Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics
Director, Research and Genetics
Director, Genetics Clinic at The University of Kansas Health System
ABMG Certified Clinical Geneticist and Clinical Cytogeneticist
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

B.A., B.S., Chadron State College, Chadron, NE
M.S., University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
Ph.D., Indiana University, Bloomington, IN


Dr. Butler is a Professor and Director of the Division of Research and Genetics in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Pediatrics at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He also is Director of the KU Medical Center Genetics Clinic.

Dr. Butler is engaged in a clinical genetics practice for children and adults presenting for genetic services with emphasis on rare disorders, developmental disabilities, congenital anomalies, cytogenetic syndromes, Prader-Willi syndrome, early onset of morbid obesity, autism and psychiatric and behavioral problems, connective tissue disorders, and pharmacogenetics for medication management and selection. He uses advanced genetic testing approaches for identifying genetic variants causing diseases and utilized for diagnosis, better care and treatment of patients and for recurrence risks of at-risk family members. His research interests include the genetics of obesity with emphasis on Prader-Willi syndrome and obesity-related disorders, autism, psychiatric and behavioral genetics, pharmacogenetics, genotype-phenotype correlations and the natural history with delineation of rare and uncommon clinical syndromes.

He received his medical degree from the University of Nebraska in 1978 and his Ph.D. in medical genetics from Indiana University in 1984. He completed an American Board of Medical Genetics (ABMG) accredited fellowship in medical genetics in 1983 and became a Diplomate of the American Board of Medical Genetics (ABMG) in 1984. Certified in clinical genetics and clinical cytogenetics by the ABMG, he became a Founding Fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) in 1993.

Dr. Butler serves as chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association-USA (PWSA). He received the PWSA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008 and the PWSA Distinguished Service Award in 2019. He also was honored with the Distinguished Service Award from Chadron State College (1986), the Osler Institute Teaching Award-Pediatric Review Course from Vanderbilt University (1988) and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Indiana University (2007).

In addition, he was recognized by Best Doctors in America (2007-19) and in Consumers' Research Council of America's Guide to America's Top Physicians (2008-19). Dr. Butler was selected for inclusion in Top Doctors in Kansas City (2016-19). In 2016, he was honored with the University of Kansas Chancellor's Club Research Award and was recipient of the KU Medical Center Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Service Award in 2017.

Before joining the faculty at KU Medical Center in 2008, Dr. Butler was a tenured Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Pathology and Director of the Regional Genetics Program at Vanderbilt University from 1984 to 1998. Also, from 1998 to 2008, he was Section Chief of Medical Genetics and Molecular Medicine at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, as well as a Professor of Pediatrics and recipient of the William R. Brown Endowed Chair in Medical Genetics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.

Dr. Butler has been an active member of several professional organizations including NIH study sections and editorial boards for journals. Additionally, he has edited several special journal issues on topics related to pediatric heart disease, obesity, autism, Prader-Willi syndrome and genetic testing in pediatric disorders. He currently is Associate Editor for the Frontiers of Genetics. He has conducted extramurally funded research on gene expression studies and genotype-phenotype correlations in Prader-Willi, Angelman, fragile X and Burnside-Butler syndromes, the genetics of autism and obesity and delineation of genetic disorders with natural history and pharmacogenetics.

Dr. Butler has published over 500 research articles, multiple book chapters and several textbooks. He is a member of medical advisory boards for several rare disease organizations; an appointee to committees at the state government level; and a member of several federal, regional and local grant review committees. 

To learn more, visit Dr. Butler's University of Kansas Health System bio.

Last modified: Oct 14, 2020

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Merlin G. Butler, M.D., Ph.D., FFACMG
Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics
Director, Research and Genetics
Director, Genetics Clinic at The University of Kansas Health System
ABMG Certified Clinical Geneticist and Clinical Cytogeneticist

3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Mailstop 4015
Kansas City, Kansas 66160

P: 913-588-1800
F: 913-588-1305
mbutler4@kumc.edu

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