Our research is aimed at understanding the molecular basis of morphological change during craniofacial development. We use two model systems: the developing palate and the developing calvarial bone and sutures. Understanding the developmental processes underpinning these systems also gives us a greater insight into the molecular pathogenesis of diseases that result when normal development is disrupted, notably cleft palate and craniosynostosis (premature fusion of the calvarial sutures). These are the two most common craniofacial anomalies. Affected individuals and their families suffer profound effects that require extensive multidisciplinary treatment over many years.
Our studies also have wider implications for developmental biology and biomedical science as we investigate the processes of growth factor signaling, tissue-tissue interactions, morphological change, mesenchymal condensation formation (cell proliferation, death and adhesion).