Core Research Area

The University of Iowa College of Dentistry is a worldwide leader in the genetics of craniofacial and dental development.

Craniofacial anomalies are among the most common forms of birth defects. The goal of this research group is to identify both genetic and environmental causes for facial birth defects, with a primary focus on orofacial clefting, including cleft lip and cleft palate. Our center builds upon a 40-year history of clinical and research studies on craniofacial anomalies at The University of Iowa and continues the tradition established over the past decade of interdisciplinary and inter-institutional research. The research includes not only a broad-based internal constituency but collaborative projects and interactions with colleagues in the United States and overseas. These projects offer access to novel populations and innovative techniques. A variety of approaches are utilized, including genetic and epidemiologic studies of human populations, and the development of animal models that are characterized through molecular biological and biochemical analyses, in addition to a variety of sophisticated imaging techniques.

Updates

Azeez Butali

Iowa dental researcher receives supplemental NIH award

Thursday, September 15, 2022
Building on his February 2020 NIH grant, Azeez Butali, professor in the Department of Oral Pathology, Radiology, and Medicine, was awarded a $133,526 supplemental award to identify the mental health challenges among African mothers and their children affected by orofacial clefts.
Azeez Alade with his Smile Train award

Iowa graduate student receives inaugural IADR Smile Train Cleft Research Award

Thursday, June 30, 2022
Azeez Alade, a PhD candidate in genetic epidemiology, specializes in identifying rare genetic factors associated with orofacial clefts in African populations. The IADR and Smile Train awarded Alade $75K to support his dissertation research.
Azeez Butali

The Genetics of Cleft Lip and Palate for the Zulu Population in South Africa

Thursday, February 10, 2022
The nonprofit organization, Smile Train, awarded Iowa professor Azeez Butali a $40,000 grant to study the genetic causes of cleft lip and palate among the Zulu population in South Africa. Butali is an internationally recognized expert in the genetics of cleft lip and palate, particularly among African populations. Butali is working with Thriona Naicker, a trained Medical Geneticist and PhD student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Butali serves as Naicker’s mentor for his dissertation research.
Eric Van Otterloo

The Genetics of Bone Formation

Friday, February 19, 2021
As an expert in the genetics of embryonic development and an assistant professor in the Department of Periodontics, Eric Van Otterloo, has opened a new dimension for understanding craniofacial development, genetics, and bone formation as he and his team have explored a peculiar gene, Memo1.