The ultimate aim of craniofacial research is to understand the causes underlying craniofacial malformations and to develop diagnostics and therapies for these disorders and for repair of craniofacial tissues. An in-depth, interdisciplinary understanding of developmental biology, disease processes and tissue repair provides an essential foundation for insights into the mechanisms of craniofacial morphogenesis and regeneration and the subsequent translation of scientific outcomes to the clinical management of disorders of the head and face. Such in-depth work probes the cellular events and molecular switches that control tissue patterning and repair and the morphogenetic processes that shape craniofacial tissues and organs. Contemporary studies of the development of the vertebrate head and face take a multidisciplinary approach combining developmental biology with functional genomics, biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology and cellular biology. As in other fields of developmental biology research, the study of craniofacial development utilises a range of vertebrate species, including those that are not commonly used for laboratory studies. Collectively, these provide a range of experimental models for investigating the molecular and cellular mechanisms underpinning the morphogenesis of craniofacial structures and their associated organs in health and diseases, as well as offering insights into the evolutionary forces and environmental factors driving the diversity of form and function of these structures. Research in craniofacial development is a key element of the discipline of developmental and cell biology and aligns well with the scope of several journals. The scientific program will highlight how interdisciplinary research can push boundaries in our understanding of craniofacial research, through talks investigating the physics and chemistry of craniofacial biology. Such approaches help researchers address how craniofacial cell populations work together (integration) and how the surrounding environment impacts on form. This will be accompanied by discussions on how these processes drive tissue diversity and the form shaping process, and how distinctive features of the vertebrate head have evolved. Invited presentations by leading researchers will discuss new findings in craniofacial morphogenesis and repair, with specific focus on the role that mechanics plays in shaping development. The meeting will also feature sessions on cell signalling, clinical genetics, sense organs, development of new animal models of craniofacial disorders, and on the applications of tissue engineering strategies for regenerative craniofacial tissue repair. The programme will bring together researchers of diverse expertise to foster stimulating discussions and productive collaborations across different fields in a collegial atmosphere.
Craniofacial abnormalities (involving the highly complex and integrated tissues of the head) represent one third of all birth defects. This conference aims to showcase the latest research findings on how the head forms, what goes wrong in the case of birth defects and how repair strategies for cranial tissue can be enhanced.