Doctors and scientists in the Center for Craniofacial Research work to improve the lives of patients and families by finding the causes of craniofacial conditions and developing new methods to prevent, diagnose and treat them.

Our researchers work closely in teams, which gives them the best chance to make new discoveries that might benefit your child. We bring together experts from many fields, including cell biology , molecular biology , embryology , developmental biology , genetics , clinical outcomes research and epidemiology .

What we learn from your family in clinic helps define our research focus. Likewise, our research helps us provide the most effective care to your family. The close link between our clinical and research efforts is one factor that makes Seattle Children's a leader in treating craniofacial conditions.

CORE Research

CORE logoThe Craniofacial Outcomes Research and Epidemiology (CORE) group connects many researchers at Seattle Children's. They work together to better understand craniofacial conditions and improve treatment outcomes for patients and families.

Learn more about the CORE group

Cleft Lip and Palate Research

Cleft lip and palate researchTimothy Cox, PhD, and his team do research with animals to understand why cleft lip and palate develop. Their work combines molecular genetics and embryology. It will help researchers find the causes of this condition as well as methods to prevent it.

Learn more about current research from the Cox lab.

Craniofacial Microsomia Research

Craniofacial microsomia researchTo improve care for all children with craniofacial microsomia, Carrie L. Heike, MD, MS, and her team work on standard ways to define and treat this condition. The team conducts research with a network of other medical centers to find the causes and assess treatment outcomes. This approach will help us refine our treatment methods and improve the lives of our patients.

Learn about current research from the Heike lab.

Craniosynostosis Research

Craniosynostosis researchCraniosynostosis is a main focus of research for Michael L. Cunningham, MD, PhD, and his team. They do studies to:

  • Find the genetic pathways that result in craniosynostosis. They do this using molecular genetics and developmental biology.
  • Tell how craniosynostosis affects learning, attention and behavior so we can provide the most effective care.
  • Develop software using "computer vision" to classify skull shapes. This improves research into the causes of and effective treatments for craniosynostosis.

Learn about current research from the Cunningham lab.

Microtia Research

Microtia researchDaniela V. Luquetti, MD, PhD, works with researchers here and in South America to:

  • Find out which changes in genes cause microtia, and learn whether factors in the environment raise the risk for this condition, which is more common in the Andean region of South America.
  • Develop a system to describe and rate the physical traits of microtia and how severe each case is. This may improve the way all researchers collect and interpret data for microtia studies.

Learn about current research from the Luquetti lab.

Robin Sequence Research

Robin sequence face

Reproduced with permission from Pediatrics, Vol. 127, Page 940, Copyright © 2011 by the AAP

Kelly N. Evans, MD, studies sleep and breathing in children with craniofacial conditions to:

  • Learn about obstructive sleep apnea in infants with Robin sequence, and link details about their sleep and breathing with their facial structure.
  • Find out which factors in the months before birth might be linked with Robin sequence.

Learn about current research from the Evans lab.

22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome Research

22q11.2 noseChildren with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome often have facial differences. Dr. Heike conducts research to measure and describe facial features linked with the condition and to find out which changes in genes may affect these features.

Learn about current research from the Heike lab.

Understanding Facial Form

Understanding Facial FormThe Craniofacial Center works on several research projects as part of the FaceBase Consortium. FaceBase is a national effort between many researchers around the country. It was created to help us collect and share data that will improve our understanding of the genetics, development, anatomy and causes of craniofacial conditions.

Seattle Children's doctors take part in research to define craniofacial anatomy precisely. We're also using 3-D photography and radiographic imaging to build a library of data about normal craniofacial anatomy. Using these data, we are in a good position to begin to understand the events that lead to craniofacial conditions. This is the basis for improving diagnosis and treatment and, one day, preventing these conditions.

Learn about current research from the Cunningham lab and Heike lab that relates to the FaceBase Consortium.