Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Azeez Butali, the Gilbert E. Lilly Professor of Diagnostic Sciences, was recognized at the American Cleft Palate Craniofacial Association's (ACPA) annual meeting with the Emerging Leader Award. 

This award is given annually to an early career professional who exhibits exemplary accomplishment and dedication to issues affecting people with cleft and craniofacial conditions. 

Azeez Butali
Dr. Azeez Butali

Butali is a global leader in cleft lip and palate research and the world’s foremost expert in the genetics of these conditions in African populations. As part of his research mission, he has also spearheaded the formation of a diverse, international network of researchers in Africa and the US to develop, refine, and apply their findings for the benefit of African populations and their genetic descendants. 

Cleft lip and palate are common birth defects that affect millions of people around the world. They can cause a range of problems, including difficulty eating, speaking, and hearing. There is no cure for cleft lip and palate, but the conditions can be treated with surgery and other therapies.

Butali's research is focused on understanding the genetic factors that contribute to cleft lip and palate by studying the genomes of people with these conditions. In doing so, he has helped identify genes, specifically for African populations, that cause clefting. Cleft lip and palate account for a significant proportion of neonatal birth defects in Africa, but prior to Butali’s groundbreaking work, there was very little data on the genetic causes of the condition for this population.

The ACPA is the premier scientific resource and interdisciplinary professional network for healthcare providers serving patients with cleft lip, cleft palate, and craniofacial differences.