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24 August 2022

Dr Daniel Stonehouse-Smith receives MRC Fellowship to study cleft palate

The funding will explore the cellular basis of cleft palate at embryo stage using mouse models.

Dr Daniel Stonehouse-Smith

Dr Daniel Stonehouse-Smith has been awarded a prestigious MRC Clinical Research Training Fellowship to fund new research into the cellular basis of cleft palate.

Dr Stonehouse-Smith’s project will investigate how cells multiply, move and change shape during development of the palate, ensuring that this structure is continuous in the roof of the mouth when a baby is born. This will be done using laboratory mice as the palate forms in a very similar way in the mouse embryo when compared with humans.

Cleft lip and/or palate is one of the most common human birth defects that can seriously affect facial appearance and oro-facial function, including the development of speech and language, feeding and nutrition. It can also negatively impact upon general physical and mental health as well as life expectancy.

While much is known about the genetic basis of this condition, there is a dearth of information about how the disrupted function of different genes influences cells in the embryo and how they behave during development.

This research will be relevant to patients and their families who may want to understand why they have been born with a cleft palate, and to other researchers interested in embryonic development. In the longer term, better knowledge of how certain genotypes lead to a cleft palate may help us design better tools to diagnose, prevent and potentially treat cleft palate through tissue engineering and early therapeutic interventions. I look forward to sharing the research findings with both the wider research community and advocacy groups for individuals born with a cleft.

Dr Daniel Stonehouse-Smith
L-R: Professor Jeremy Green, Dr Daniel Stonehouse-Smith, Professor Martyn Cobourne
L-R: Professor Jeremy Green, Dr Daniel Stonehouse-Smith, Professor Martyn Cobourne

Dr Stonehouse-Smith is an Academic Clinical Fellow in Orthodontics who is currently at ST3 level and undertakes his clinical training in the Department of Orthodontics at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trusts.

The three-year MRC Fellowship will allow him to undertake a dedicated period of research training and carry out a PhD in the Centre for Craniofacial & Regenerative Biology within FoDOCS under the supervision of Professor Martyn Cobourne and Professor Jeremy Green.

Dr Stonehouse-Smith’s fellowship will commence in October 2022.