International Dental Research Association Honors UCSF Orthodontist

April 16, 2007
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Dr. Karin Vargervik, director of UCSF's Center for Craniofacial Anomalies for the last 30 years, has received the 2007 Craniofacial Biology Research Award.

Vargervik, also professor and interim chair of the Division of Craniofacial Anomalies at the UCSF School of Dentistry, received the award as part of the opening ceremonies of the 85th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) last month in Louisiana.

The Craniofacial Biology Research Award, supported by BioMimetic Pharmaceuticals and Osteohealth Co., was established to recognize individuals who have contributed to the body of knowledge in craniofacial biology over a significant period of time, and whose research contributions have been accepted by the scientific community. It consists of a cash prize and plaque, and represents one of the highest honors the IADR can bestow.

Vargervik pioneered the medical and pyschosocial team approach to the treatment of multiple congenital abnormalities and, by so doing, has helped to literally rebuild the faces and lives of thousands of patients.

Since 2003, Vargervik and Dr. William Hoffman, chief of UCSF's Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, have journeyed to Saipan for one week each spring to provide free orthodontic and surgery care to children and adults. They've also built and trained a team of local specialists who provide follow-up care.

Vargervik received her dental training at the Medizinische Akademie in Dusseldorf, Germany, and her orthodontic training at the University of Oslo, Norway. In the late 1960s, she was a research fellow at the Forsyth Dental Center (now called Forsyth Institute) in Boston, Mass., after which she accepted a faculty position at UCSF in 1982.

Vargervik's research interests and activities have focused on experimental and clinical issues relating to bone formation and bone remodeling in the craniofacial region. Her clinical research includes investigations of the following:

  • characteristics of growth and development in cleft lip and palate, hemifacial microsomia, and craniosynostosis syndromes
  • factors contributing to abnormal development
  • effects of the neuromuscular system on bone morphology and growth patterns
  • stability of craniofacial skeletal components after major reconstructive procedures
  • treatment outcomes following various types of management procedures in a team environment

Vargervik's studies on etiological factors in the development of malocclusions, airway changes, mandibular posture and jaw growth adaptation are considered classics and are often referenced.

She has been active in the IADR Craniofacial Biology Group and was group president in 1995-1996.

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