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NIH funds cleft lip and palate research

November 03, 2014

The University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine announced an $11.8 million five-year research grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to continue exploration of the genetic roots of cleft lip and cleft palate and to expand the research to include populations in Colombia, Nigeria, the Philippines and Pennsylvania. The NIDCR is one of the National Institutes of Health.

"Orofacial clefts present a public health challenge as these patients typically require surgical, nutritional, dental, speech and behavioral treatments for years," said Mary L. Marazita, Ph.D., professor and vice chair, Department of Oral Biology, and director of the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics. Orofacial clefts, small gaps in the lip or palate that can form when a baby’s mouth doesn’t develop properly during pregnancy, occur in 1 of 700 live births worldwide, Dr. Marazita said.