Our Cleft and Craniofacial Center team conducts leading edge research into the causes of and treatments for congenital craniofacial malformations. By thoroughly examining current treatments and their outcomes, these researchers are able to develop new ways to improve the lives of children affected by craniofacial abnormalities. Their knowledge is vast, and they are always learning more. We are excited to bring that knowledge to the bedside when treating our patients.

Tissue Engineering of Bone and Cartilage

Tissue engineering aims to improve clinical procedures for repairing damaged tissues. One of our research teams is seeking to find a way to grow better bone and cartilage, two important parts of reconstructive surgery for craniofacial bony defects.

Learn more about the work underway in the van Aalst Research Lab.

Wideband Reflectance/Middle Ear Study

Kids with craniofacial conditions often have trouble with ear infections, particularly those with cleft palate. This is because the cleft can interfere with how the middle ear normally functions. We are addressing this issue with a large clinical study to evaluate a new technique called wideband reflectance that could help us determine the health of a child’s middle ear.

Positional Plagiocephaly

Cases of positional plagiocephaly, or “flat head,” have risen since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) launched the “Back to Sleep” campaign in the 1980s to reduce SIDS in newborns. An effective treatment is the use of a molding helmet. Our ongoing research study uses 3-D imaging to compare head growth and flat spots on the head before and after helmet therapy.

Velopharyngeal Insufficiency / Incompetence (VPI)

VPI is common in children with a history of cleft palate. Two studies are currently in progress in the area of VPI. In one, researchers are investigating sound source mechanisms that affect speech disorders due to VPI. The other is concerned with identifying the underlying mechanism for the occurrence of nasal rustle (often called “nasal turbulence”) in children with VPI.