Dr. Marie Tolarova Honored with International Cleft Lip and Palate Foundation’s Award of Merit

Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry faculty member Dr. Marie Tolarova has been honored with the International Cleft Lip and Palate Foundation (ICPF) Award of Merit which recognizes her extensive research on prevention of clefts. Tolarova received the award on May 9 during the 7th Biennial World Cleft Lip and Palate Congress hosted by ICPF and held in Mahe, Seychelles.

The Award of Merit is the highest research award given by ICPF, a multi-disciplinary foundation devoted to cleft lip and palate patients. The Award of Merit honors individuals who have made significant contributions to research and care of cleft lip and palate patients. 

Tolarova, professor and executive director of Pacific's Craniofacial and Cleft Prevention Program, has led the dental school's efforts to help individuals with cleft lip and palate for many years. She has produced extensive research regarding clefts and has taken part in dozens of international mission trips to help individuals with congenital anomalies. In 2011 Tolarova organized an international conference in San Francisco which brought together surgeons, dentists, geneticists and others to work toward an effective approach to cleft lip and palate prevention. 

"It is a big honor to receive this prestigious award for my lifetime research toward prevention of cleft lip and palate anomalies," said Tolarova. "I am accepting this award on behalf of many colleagues who helped me, and on behalf of thousands of patients and their families who participated in our research with a promise to them that we will use all our knowledge, skills, and effort toward better understanding of causes of clefts and toward developing an effective approach for their prevention."

According to Tolarova, cleft lip and palate anomalies are the most common and one of the most severe congenital anomalies of the face and mouth, and the second most common birth defect in general. Additionally, a study published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, estimates that one out of every 700-1,000 infants is born with a cleft. If other congenital syndromes that include clefts are counted, the number rises to one in 560.