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NIDCR launches the FaceBase Consortium
Date:10/6/2009

Although about half of all birth defects involve the face and skull, scientists remain unclear about why most occur. To help families at risk for these conditions, what's needed is a comprehensive and systematic understanding of how the faces of healthy children develop and what goes awry to cause common malformations. With today's improved technologies, researchers can generate megabytes of information in a single experiment on hundreds of genes that are involved in the process. The challenge now is to learn how best to integrate this information into a meaningful whole, while adding new data to form a more comprehensive picture of this complex developmental process.

The integration process just got a lot easier. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), part of the National Institutes of Health, announced today it has issued the first 11 research and technology grants of its new FaceBase Consortium. The five-year initiative will systematically compile the biological instructions to construct the middle region of the human face and precisely define the genetics underlying its common developmental disorders, such as cleft lip and palate. The mid-face includes the nose, upper lip, and the palate, or roof of the mouth.

As a key part of the initiative, a one-stop, encyclopedic database of head and skull, or craniofacial, development will be created and maintained to allow scientists to mine the riches of the information enabling them to more rapidly and effectively generate hypotheses and accelerate the pace of their research. The database, called FaceBase, will be free and publicly accessible to the scientific community. Its organizers anticipate that FaceBase will have a prototype ready within the next year and a fully functioning database soon after.

"The FaceBase project is the right initiative at the right time," said Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health. "The
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Contact: Bob Kuska
kuskar@nidcr.nih.gov
301-594-7560
NIH/National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Source:Eurekalert

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