Chichi Adeleke, D.D.S. student
Analyzes genetic causes of clefts
• Hometown: Ames, IA
• Faculty mentor/advisor: Azeez Butali, D.D.S, Ph.D
• What is your degree program and expected graduate date? Doctor of Dental Surgery, 2022
• Please describe your research: The goal of my research project is to identify functional genetic variations that may be associated with the cause of orofacial clefts (OFCs). I search for these genetic variants in candidate genes, or genes known to play a role with craniofacial abnormalities, in an isolated South African population.
• In simple terms, why does this research matter? Orofacial clefts (OFCs) are the most common craniofacial birth defect and place a huge psychosocial and financial burden on the families they impact. Although OFCs can be surgically corrected, treatment requires an interdisciplinary collaboration from a variety of experts including dentists, oral surgeons, psychiatrists, and speech language pathologists. Often, particularly in developing countries, the financial obligation that comes with multidisciplinary treatment is not feasible for many families. By understanding the genetic components of OFCs, we hope to establish ways to prevent them from occurring and thus, eliminate the need for treatments.
• How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? About 10 months – I began research the summer after my first year here in dental school.
• How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Participating in research has given me a great outside-the-classroom learning experience that I wouldn’t have been able to obtain solely from my dentistry studies. It has allowed me to push myself in different areas of study and look at problems through a different lens, which ultimately makes me a better student and student clinician.
• What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? Regardless of where I end up in my career, my ultimate goal is to be an impactful force in my patient’s lives and in my community. I hope to use my knowledge and skills to serve those in need and to serve as a role model for minority youth.
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