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Craniofacial development is a relatively neglected area of research, in part due to its complexity, and research is often fragmented preventing any real headway to be gained. Yet it is an important clinical problem affecting over 0.75 % of live births worldwide. Such craniofacial malformations, include facial and tooth disorders, cleft lip and palate, muscular and skeletal pathologies, deafness and blindness, and can be debilitating having not only physical but also social consequences. Birth defects are the leading cause of infant mortality accounting for 1 in 5 infant deaths, and contribute to potential life loss and/or long-term disability. The department of craniofacial development has a unique and core group of internationally recognised scientists who have the complementary expertise to address many fundamental aspects of craniofacial biology. Thus the department encompasses researchers investigating all aspects of craniofacial biology from facial patterning to tissue differentiation. The unifying theme of this research is to understand how craniofacial disorders and disease occur. The proposal aims to train junior scientists in this area of research so that they acquire a broad range of technical and transferable skills. A structured programme of laboratory research and lectures will achieve this. Students will carry out feasible but innovative research projects and will be supervised directly by one main supervisor allowing frequent contact and individualised training. They will also undertake foundation training in technical skills at the forefront of research technology and will attend core tutorials in craniofacial and cell biology. In addition they will attend journal clubs and seminars that will ensure they gain skills in presentation and critical scientific thinking. The technical training will include the acquisition of skills in molecular, cellular biology and embryological techniques using a variety of animal models and in vitro approaches.

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