News and Events

Dugoni School of Dentistry Hosts Third Pacific Cleft Lip and Palate Mini Symposium

Presentations were given during the Cleft Lip and Palate Mini Symposium.

November  12, 2010

Faculty members and orthodontic residents at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry recently hosted the Third Pacific Cleft Lip and Palate Mini Symposium designed to showcase the Orthodontic Department's dedication to treating patients with orofacial disorders. It also highlighted the department's involvement with Rotaplast International, a San Francisco-based humanitarian organization which provides free reconstructive operations and treatment for children in need throughout the world.

The three-session event was hosted by the Orthodontic Department's Drs. Robert Boyd, Miroslav Tolar, Marie Tolarova and Maureen Valley. Invited speakers were Dr. Angelo Capozzi, MD, founder and medical director of Rotaplast International and Dr. Sneha Oberoi, an orthodontist from the Center for Craniofacial Anomalies at the University of California, San Francisco. The special guest was Pablo Castro, founder of the nonprofit organization Operation Tooth Fairy.

The symposium's first session featured presentations given by orthodontic residents who participated in Rotaplast missions abroad. During the second session residents discussed orthodontic treatment of patients with clefts completed at the Dugoni School of Dentistry. The final event was a poster session featuring research by DDS students on the topic of orofacial clefts.

Orthodontic residents, faculty volunteers and students from the Dugoni School of Dentistry community have been participating in Rotaplast cleft medical missions for the past nine years. They've travelled around the world on more than 65 missions, and donated dental, orthodontic, genetic and pediatric professional services valued at nearly two million dollars. Furthermore, volunteers are able to use these trips as a way to advance research and form a better understanding of cleft lip and palate and its treatment.

"In addition to treating patients who very much need our care, we are able to bring back very valuable data and specimens from our mission trips throughout the world," noted Tolarova, who is widely known for her contributions to the research into causes of cleft lip and palate, particularly her studies of primary prevention of clefts. "These experiences prove to be a fundamental resource for our research toward finding causes of clefts and developing an efficient protocol for their prevention."

The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry is recognized for its contribution to research in the field of cleft lip and palate. It may be the only graduate orthodontic program in the country that includes in its curriculum the opportunity for residents to participate in cleft medical missions abroad. In June 2011 the dental school will host an international workshop dedicated to cleft prevention and surgical-orthodontic advances in treatment.

For more information about the Dugoni School of Dentistry's involvement in cleft lip and palate prevention and research, please contact Dr. Marie Tolarova, executive director of Pacific's Craniofacial Team and Cleft Prevention Program, at or 415.749.3397. For more information about the upcoming international workshop, please visit

Rotaplast International treats patients with cleft lips and palates worldwide. It provides long-term solutions by funding and mentoring local physicians; launching public education projects; and advancing research. The goal of Rotaplast International is to eliminate the incidence of untreated cleft lips and palates in children worldwide by the year 2025. For more information visit:

Category Type: Dental Issues and Research, Community Outreach

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