Faculty and Research

Cleft Lip and Palate

Craniofacial Genetics: Cleft Lip and Palate Anomalies

Dr. Marie Tolarova

At the Pacific Craniofacial Genetics Laboratory (PCFGL) we study the etiology of craniofacial disorders in humans,with a focus on craniofacial genetic studies of cleft lip and palate anomalies. We are identifying the causes of and developing preventive strategies for nonsyndromic cleft lip and palate- the most common and most serious anomalies of the craniofacial region. Study topics include:

  • Candidate genes involved in etiology of craniofacial anomalies (polymorphisms of MTHFR, RFC1, MSX1 and TGFB3 genes)
  • Association of maternal nutrition with cleft lip and palate in a child
  • Epidemiological studies of orofacial clefts in different populations
  • Genealogical studies

Other projects in the laboratory aim at developing the use of saliva and hair roots for molecular genetic diagnoses, and at understanding the genetic contributions to maxillary midline diastema and congenitally missing teeth.

The lab is fortunate to have a large collection of specimens for molecular genetic studies of cleft lip/palate and craniofacial anomalies, thanks to a close collaboration with Rotaplast International, Inc. Orthodontic residents, faculty members and students participate as professionals in multidisciplinary Rotaplast medical missions around the world, providing dental care while collecting specimens and data for research on causes of orofacial clefts.

Since 2001, the PCFGL has successfully supported the research of 19 orthodontic residents toward their masters of science degrees in dentistry, as well as many student research projects.

The PCFGL is open to graduates who would like to gain skills in research, to volunteers and to dental and college students for summer externships.

Dr. Marie Tolarova, tolarova@pacific.edu, 415.749.3397