Advances in imaging, genome technology, subclinical phenotyping, embryology and other investigative disciplines have provided unique opportunities for developing a better understanding of mid-face development. Clefts that involve the mid-face, in particular those of the lip and the palate are among the most common birth defects and create life-long challenges for affected individuals. These concerns include repeated surgeries, as well as speech, behavior, dental and long-term health issues such as increased risks for cancer and delayed cognitive development. We have assembled a team of committed and experienced craniofacial researchers, plus experts in bioinformatics and computer science, to develop a Face Base Hub that will facilitate research, clinical, and educational activities related to facial development. Our Face Base team consists of collaborators who have worked well together for many years and who bring far-reaching and complementary expertise to the Hub. Our Hub will provide a Face Base web portal, access to extensive databases of both human and animal model data (such as genotypes, sequence data, expression data, facial images and other phenotypes) and a comprehensive set of web-based tools to enhance research opportunities. It will focus on integrating data from diverse sources and models, and to foster translational research in cleft lip and palate. The Hub will provide a forum for connecting investigators, and opportunities to maintain updated information in real-time on research and clinical aspects of cleft lip and palate. It will include educational and biorepository activities that will enhance clinical and public understanding of, and involvement in, facial research. We will build on existing bioinformatic infrastructures that can be adopted for Face Base, utilizing partnerships with such programs as CaBIG, the UCSC genome-browser, and Wikipedia. The outcome will be a significant increase in the ability to rapidly advance craniofacial research, new educational and outreach activities to enhance public and professional awareness of mid-face defects and a future model for broadening these activities across other dental and craniofacial disorders.
The Face Base Hub will provide a common place to bring together the research and clinical communities involved with cleft lip and palate. It will enable scientists to have easily accessible information even before it is published to foster a sense of common purpose in working on these important birth defects. The Hub will also provide clinical updates and educational materials accessible to families and to researchers.
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