The Johns Hopkins Gazette: September 20, 1999
September 20, 1999
VOL. 29, NO. 4


NIH Taps Craniofacial Program as Center of Discovery

Johns Hopkins Gazette Online Edition

What is the likelihood that a baby will be born with a cleft palate? How will smoking or a glass of wine consumed during pregnancy affect a fetus's skull development? Johns Hopkins researchers will use a five-year, $7.5 million research grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, a division of NIH, to answer these questions and others.

The Johns Hopkins Center for Craniofacial Development and Disorders was selected by the NIDCR as one of six Comprehensive Oral Health Research Centers of Discovery. Led by principal investigator and professor of pediatrics Ethylin Jabs, Hopkins researchers will further their knowledge of normal craniofacial development and the pathogenesis of craniofacial malformations such as oral clefting and craniosynostosis, which is premature fusing of the skull bones that often requires surgery to prevent neurological problems.

The Hopkins team will study the biological mechanisms through which alcohol consumption causes craniofacial malformation in animal models. They will also examine the molecular biology, genetics and treatment of craniosynostosis in animal models and humans and identify susceptibility genes for oral clefting.

Individuals with craniofacial disorders often carry significant psychosocial burdens. Hopkins researchers will study the interactions of children with craniofacial malformation and those whose skulls developed normally to understand how and why some children with physical deformities cope better than others.

The center is multidisciplinary and multi-institutional with collaborative ties to universities, research institutions, hospitals and patient support groups in 14 states and seven countries.