Birth defects are the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States, accounting for more than 20% of all infant deaths, yet the causes of about 70% of all birth defects are still unknown.

My laboratory is involved in studies of non-Mendelian (multifactorial) birth defects, such as nonsyndromic craniosynostosis, bladder epispadias-exstrophy complex, and cleft lip and/or palate. Our ultimate goal is to identify genes and environmental factors contributing to the risk of these birth defects. Our initial approach involves recruitment and systematic evaluation of a large groups of affected families. This allows for unbiased ascertainment of the clinical and epidemiologic characteristics of these defects and their phenotypic variability.