Dr. Dykens is a Professor of Psychology and Human Development, Professor of Psychiatry and Professor of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University. She is an Annette Schaffer Eskind Professor and Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, and Co-Director for the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. Her research examines psychopathology and areas of strength in persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, especially those with genetic syndromes. Her studies focus on the development and correlates of psychopathology and behavioral problems in Prader-Willi syndrome, Williams syndrome, and Down syndrome. She also examines profiles of neurocognitive and adaptive strengths and weaknesses in these disorders, and how these unusual profiles refine treatment and shed light on normal development.

Dr. Dykens serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association (USA). She serves on the Board of Directors of Special Olympics International. She has authored more than 220 publications, including 3 books.