Craniofacial Anomalies Program
Our innovative approach
Boston Children's Hospital's research program is the most prolific at any pediatric hospital in the world. In particular, the physicians in our Craniofacial Anomalies Program are committed to engaging in basic science and translational research that shapes widespread understanding of—and treatments for—deformities of the head and facial bones. Our clinicians are searching for new insights into:
- how and why craniofacial anomalies occur
- what role genetics play in the development of certain deformities
- what surgical treatments are most effective in removing and reducing craniofacial anomalies and helping children lead healthy, fulfilling lives
Our Craniofacial Anomalies Program physicians—who are also members of the Harvard Medical School faculty—conduct ongoing research in Children’s laboratories. They also collaborate with scientists at Boston's universities, other biomedical facilities and fellow leading medical centers.
Some of our researchers (and their individual project areas) include:
Shelly Abramowicz, DMD, MPH, a plastic surgery researcher at Children's, who is evaluating surgical solutions for cleft lip and cleft palate and temporomandibular joint dysfunction
John Meara, MD, DMD, MBA, Children's Plastic Surgeon-in-Chief, who is analyzing the genetic, phenotypic, cognitive and behavioral aspects of craniosynostosis
John B. Mulliken, MD, plastic surgeon andco-director of Children's Vascular Anomalies Center , who is working to document the recurrence and progression rates of various vascular malformations that affect pediatric patients
Bonnie Padwa, MD, DMD, Children's Oral Surgeon-in-Chief, who is assessing facial growth patterns in children with several types of craniofacial anomaly
Clinical trials at Children’s
Children’s is known for pioneering some of the most effective surgeries, diagnostic procedures and other key techniques in repairing craniofacial anomalies. A significant part of our success comes from our commitment to research—and to advancing the frontiers of pediatric medicine by conducting clinical trials.
Children’s conducts hundreds of clinical trials at any given time. Clinical trials are studies that may involve:
- evaluating the effectiveness of a new drug therapy
- testing a new diagnostic procedure or device
- examining a new treatment method for a particular disease
- taking a closer look at the causes and progression of specific conditions
While children must meet strict criteria in order to be eligible for a clinical trial, your child may be eligible to take part in a study. Before considering this option, you should be sure to:
- consult with your child’s treating physician and treatment team
- gather as much information as possible about the specific course of action outlined in the trial
- do your own research about the latest breakthroughs relating to your child’s condition
If your physician recommends that your child participate in a clinical trial, you can feel confident that the plan detailed for that study represents the best and most innovative care available. Taking part in a clinical trial at Children’s is entirely voluntary. Our team will be sure to fully address any questions you may have, and you may remove your child from the medical study at any time.
Did you know? Children's Stem Cell Program is using tumor cells to better understand hemangiomas
Children's surgical researcher Joyce Bischoff, MD, who is also an affiliate member of the hospital's Stem Cell Program, and her research team are hard at work in the lab. Their mission? To isolate stem cells found in infantile hemangiomas and use them to understand how—and why—the cells create such disorganized, abnormal blood vessels. Learn more about their research.
Children's study reveals role of subtle mutation in cleft lip and cleft palate
A slight mutation impacting the epigenome—the combined set of factors that help dictate gene activity—may be responsible not only for the occurrence of cleft lip and cleft palate, but for inherited intellectual disability, as well. A study led by Yang Shi, PhD, of Children's Division of Newborn Medicine, has exposed the mutation's influence. Learn more about the study.