Pitt Researchers Receive $3.2 Million Grant to Uncover the Genes that Build Faces

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Pitt researchers Seth Weinberg, associate professor of oral biology and co-director of Pitt’s Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics, and John Shaffer, assistant professor of human genetics, recently received a $3.2 million five-year grant from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research to continue their effort identify the genes that help determine human facial features.

This latest grant will expand upon earlier gene mapping work by focusing on high-throughput strategies designed to identify the specific variants most likely to drive gene expression during early facial development—a key piece of information needed to understand the molecular mechanisms that build human faces.

An additional component of the project will leverage longitudinal data to identify regions of the genome that impact patterns of facial growth during childhood and adolescence. This may provide unique insights into the genetic pathways that contribute to facial dysmorphology.

The project is a collaborative effort involving additional researchers from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Stanford University, Penn State and IUPUI.