Berkeley Engineers Join $24 Million Push for Craniofacial Repair Therapies

UC Berkeley is part of a California-based, six-university consortium that has been awarded $12 million by the National Institutes of Health to develop strategies for treating craniofacial defects, which affect millions of Americans.

The consortium, called the Center for Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Tissue and Organ Regeneration (C-DOCTOR), is a part of a broader $24 million effort to develop resources and strategies for regenerating dental, oral and craniofacial tissues that have been damaged by disease or injury.

Craniofacial defects have devastating effects on patients, both because vital sensory organs and brain are housed in the cranium and because the face is so important to a person’s identity. Such defects also can lead to compromised general health.

C-DOCTOR’s goal is to shepherd new therapies through preliminary studies and into human clinical trials. Funding for C-DOCTOR comes from the NIH’s National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).

Kevin Healy, professor in the College of Engineering, leads Berkeley’s research efforts in C-DOCTOR. Other C-DOCTOR partners include UC San Francisco, University of Southern California, UC Davis, UCLA and Stanford. C-DOCTOR is seeking to establish industry partnerships, identify important clinical applications and evaluate mature tissue-regeneration technologies.

“The College of Engineering has had a long history in the area of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine,” Healy said. “Faculty in the departments of bioengineering and materials science are at the forefront of cutting-edge research that will have a transformative impact on craniofacial tissue engineering. The C-DOCTOR funding provides the facilities and resources to support their activity, providing what is necessary to explore interdisciplinary collaborations to achieve the translational goals of the center.”

For more on how UC Berkeley is working to treat craniofacial disorders, watch the video below about how researchers here have discovered molecules that give hope for treating Treacher Collins Syndrome.