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Research

Our research initiatives encompass a wide variety of topics covering cleft-specific and general surgical care, including epidemiology, genetics, barriers to care, surgical outcomes, leadership, health ecosystems, and education and training. 

The Purpose of Operation Smile Research

Operation Smile research exists to benefit patients and families by improving surgical and nonsurgical care delivery and applying findings to programs that can improve their quality of life. Additionally, our goal is to continually contribute knowledge to influence health systems and policies within the global health and cleft research communities. We believe that research formalizes our curiosity; our work intends to make global improvements with an informed purpose. 

Research Grant Application

Are you a researcher who's interested in submitting a proposal to work with us? Please use this form to notify an Operation Smile Research team member. They will contact you to provide grant application criteria. 


A List of Operation Smile Research

Explore our digest of scientific research from over the years, starting with the most recent. 

2021

Nagengast, E.S., Munabi, N.C.O., Xepoleas, M., Auslander, A., Magee, W., & Chong, D. (2021). The Local Mission: Improving Access to Surgical Care in Middle-Income Countries. World Journal of Surgery, 45, 962–969.

Said, S., Chattopadhyay, L., DiBona, M., Steppling, C., Kwadjo, D., Ramamonjisoa, M., Gallardo, W., Almendarez, F., Rosales, S., Nthalika, Ibrahim., Magee, W., & Auslander, A. (2021). Short-term preoperative nutritional intervention for cleft lip and/or palate surgery eligibility: an effectiveness evaluation in six countries. The Lancet Global Health, 9(S24).

McCullough, M., Auslander, A., Nagengast, E. S., Yao, C. A., Swanson, J. W., & Magee, W. P., 3rd (2021). The Use of Crowdsourcing Technology to Evaluate Preoperative Severity in Patients With Unilateral Cleft Lip in a Multiethnic PopulationThe Journal of craniofacial surgery32(2), 482–485.

A young patient's vital signs are checked as his mother comforts him at Operation Smile Ghana's first local mission
The Importance of Local Surgical Programs

Healing More Patients Than Ever

“While the international missions are great, and we look forward to the mutual learning that takes place during these missions, the local missions are also very important to be able to reach more patients and also to be able to assess more remote areas,” said Dr. Opoku Ampomah, Operation Smile Ghana's medical director and lead cleft surgeon.

2020

Munabi, N. C. O., Durnwald, L., Nagengast, E. S., Ntirenganya, F., & Magee III, W. P. (2020). Long-Term Impact of a Mission-Based Surgical Training Rotation on Plastic Surgery Capacity Building in Rwanda. Journal of Surgical Education, 77(1), 124-130.

Xepoleas, M. D., Munabi, N., Auslander, A., Magee, W. P., & Yao, C. A. (2020). The experiences of female surgeons around the world: a scoping reviewHuman resources for health18(1), 80.

Auslander, A., McKean-Cowdin, R., Brindopke, F., Sylvester, B., DiBona, M., Magee, K., Kapoor, R., Conti, D. V., Rakotoarison, S., Magee, W., 3rd, & Operation Smile International Family Study Group* (2020). The role of smoke from cooking indoors over an open flame and parental smoking on the risk of cleft lip and palate: A case- control study in 7 low-resource countriesJournal of global health10(2), 020410.

Sylvester, B., Brindopke, F., Suzuki, A., Giron, M., Auslander, A., Maas, R. L., Tsai, B., Gao, H., Magee, W., 3rd, Cox, T. C., & Sanchez-Lara, P. A. (2020). A Synonymous Exonic Splice Silencer Variant in IRF6 as a Novel and Cryptic Cause of Non-Syndromic Cleft Lip and PalateGenes11(8), 903.

Dr. Naikhoba Munabi pictured with volunteers from the all women's mission after completing the cleft surgery simulation workshop
The Importance of Female Leadership in Medicine

Going Far Together: A Future for Women in Health Care Around the World

Dr. Naikhoba Munabi, plastic surgery resident at University of Southern California and former Global Surgery Fellow at Operation Smile, discusses critical challenges female medical professionals face in a male-dominated career.

2019

Campbell, A., Restrepo, C., Park, E., Navas, G., Deshpande, G., Swanson, J., et al. (2019). Influence of severity on aesthetic outcomes of unilateral cleft lip repair in 1,823 patients. PRS Global Open, 7(1), e2083.

Auslander, A., Mckean-Cowdin, R., Brindopke, F., Magee, K., DiBona, M., & Magee, W. (2019). Environmental risk factors for cleft lip and palate in low-resource settings: a case-control study. The Lancet Global Health, 7(S19), 19.

Yao, C. A., McCullough, M., Auslander, A., Imahiyerobo, T. A., Vander Burg, R., & Magee, W. P. III. (2019). The Smile Index: Part 2. A Simple, Prognostic Severity Scale for Unilateral Cleft Lip. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 143(4), 790e-797e.

Burton, Z. A., Ayele, Y., & McDonald, P. (2019). Establishing a sustainable anaesthetic education programme at Jimma University Medical Centre, Ethiopia. Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, 47(4), 334-342.

Munabi, N. C. O., Durnwald, L., Nagengast, E. S., Auslander, A., Ntirenganya, F., & Magee III, W. P. (2019). Pilot Evaluation of the Impact of a Mission-Based Surgical Training Rotation on the Plastic Surgery Skills and Competencies Development of General Surgery Residents in Rwanda. Journal of Surgical Education, 76(6), 1579-1587.

Gualy, S., Herrera, C., Warden, C., Valle, T., Barnum, J., Colman, B., Siu, A., & Swanson, J. W. (2019). Enabling Community Health Worker Recognition and Referral of Surgical Diseases: Pilot Study Results of a Pictorial Guide. World Journal of Surgery, 43(12), 2949-2958.

IFS team member JR Lado speaks to a family member of a potential patient
The Importance of Relevant Research

Striving Toward a New Tomorrow

The International Family Study aims to provide a framework for sustainable and collaborative global research with the goal of understanding the genetic and environmental risk factors for cleft lip and palate unique to the populations we serve. We're doing so through the establishment and use of a centralized database for genetic samples as well as maternal and paternal environmental data that can be accessed by researchers around the world to better understand how one day we may be able to prevent cleft.

2018

Stewart, B.T., Hatcher, K. W., Sengupta, A., and Vander Burg, R. (2018). Cleft-Related Infanticide and Abandonment: A Systematic Review of the Academic and Lay Literature. The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal, 55(1), 98-104.

Yao, C. A., Imahiyerobo, T., Swanson, J., Auslander, A., de Cardenas, D., Figueiredo, J. C., et al. (2018). The Smile Index: Part 1. A Large-Scale Study of Phenotypic Norms for Preoperative and Postoperative Unilateral Cleft Lip. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 141(1), 137-146.

McCullough, M., Campbell, A., Siu, A., Durnwald, L., Kumar, S., Magee III, W. P., & Swanson, J. (2018). Competency-Based Education in Low Resource Settings: Development of a Novel Surgical Training Program. World Journal of Surgery, 42(3), 646-651.

Park, E., Deshpande, G., Schonmeyr, B., Restrepo, C., & Campbell, A. (2018). Improved Early Cleft Lip and Palate Complications at a Surgery Specialty Center in the Developing World. The Cleft-Palate Craniofacial Journal, 55(8), 1145-1152.

Park, E., McCullough, M., Purnell, C., & Gosain, A. K. (2018). Incorporating Global Health Experience and Research into Plastic Surgery Training: How and WhyPlastic and Reconstructive Surgery Global Open6(7), e1809.

2017

Swanson, J. W., Yao, C. A., Auslander, A., et al. (2017). Patient barriers to accessing surgical cleft care in Vietnam: a multi-site, cross-sectional outcomes study. World Journal of Surgery, 41(6), 1435-1446.

Ly, S., Burg, M. L., Ihenacho, U., et al. (2017). Paternal Risk Factors for Oral Clefts in Northern Africans, Southeast Asians, and Central Americans. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(6), 657.

Campbell, A. C., Restrepo, C., Deshpande, G., et al. (2017). Validation of the Unilateral Cleft Lip Severity Index for Surgeons and Laypersons. PRS Global Open, 5(9), e1479.

Campbell, A. C., Restrepo, C., Deshpande, G., et al. (2017). Validation of a Unilateral Cleft Lip Surgical Outcomes Evaluation Scale for Surgeons and Laypersons. PRS Global Open, 5(9), e1472.

Jerome, M.A., Gillenwater, J., Laub, D. R., et al. (2017). Primary Cleft Lip and Palate Repair in Assam, India: Does Preoperative Anthropometric Analysis Help Identify Patients With Increased Surgical Risk in a Clinically Prescreened Population? The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal, 54(6), 720-725.

2016

Taro, T., Yao, C. A., Ly. S., et al. (2016). The Global Surgery Partnership: An Innovative Partnership for Education, Research, and Service. Academic Medicine: Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 91(1), 75-78.

Campbell, A. (2016). Disruptive Innovation in Surgical Education. The Journal of the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons, 1(1), 6-7.

Burg, M. L., Chai, Y., Yao. C. A., Magee III, W. P., & Figueiredo, J. C. (2016). Epidemiology, Etiology, and Treatment of Isolated Cleft Palate. Frontiers in Physiology, 7(article 67).

Yao, C. A., Taro, T. B., Wipfli, H. L., et al. (2016). The Tsao Fellowship in Global Health: A Model for International Fellowships in a Surgery Residency. The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 27(2), 282-285.

Schönmeyr, B., Wendby, L., & Campbell, A. (2016). Surgical Complications in 1408 Primary Cleft Palate Repairs Operated at a Single Center in Guwahati, Assam, India. The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal, 53(3), 278-282.

Jones, C., Campbell, A. C., Magee, W. P., Ayala, R., & Mackay, D. R. (2016). The Expanding Role of Education and Research in International Healthcare. Annals of Plastic Surgery, 76, S150-S154.

Yao, C., Swanson, J., McCullough, M., et al. (2016). The Medical Mission and Modern Core Competency Training: A 10-Year Follow-Up of Resident Experiences in Global Plastic Surgery. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 138(3), 531e-538e.

Stewart, B. T., Carlson, L., Hatcher, K. W., et al. (2016). Estimate of Unmet Need for Cleft Lip and/or Palate Surgery in India. JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, 18(5), 354-361.

Yao, C. A., Swanson, J., Chanson, D., et al. (2016). Barriers to Reconstructive Surgery in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Cross-Sectional Study of 453 Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Patients in Vietnam. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 138(5), 887e-895e.

Carlson, L. C., Stewart, B. T., Hatcher, K. W., et al. (2016). A Model of the Unmet Need for Cleft Lip and Palate Surgery in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. World Journal of Surgery, 40(12), 2857-2867.

Surgical residents in Rwanda
The Importance of Empowering Local Health Care Workers

Today's Training, Tomorrow's Solutions

Starting in 2015, Operation Smile has partnered with the University of Rwanda, Partners In Health and the Rwandan Ministry of Health to host twice-annual surgical training rotations. Now the organization’s primary focus in the country, the rotations became formalized after a series of international medical missions conducted from 2010 through 2015. Since then, more than 25 Rwandan general surgery residents have received hands-on training and education through the rotations.

2015

Carlson, L. C., Hatcher, K. W., Tomberg, L., et al. (2015). Inequitable Access to Timely Cleft Palate Surgery in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. World Journal of Surgery, 40(5), 1047-1052.

Deshpande, G. & Schönmeyr, B. (2015). Using Electronic Tablets as a Teaching Tool for Marking Cleft Lip Repairs. Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery, 68(1), 122-123.

Carlson, L. C., Hatcher, K. W., Ayala, R., Magee, W. P., & Vander Burg, R. (2015). Quality-driven programming in global surgery: A 30-Year institutional experience delivering safe, timely and effective surgical care. Annals of Global Health, 81(1), 189.

Deshpande, G., Wendby, L., Jagtap, R., & Schönmeyr B. (2015). The Efficacy of Vomer Flap for Closure of Hard Palate During Primary Lip Repair. The Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery, 68, 940-945.

Vander Burg, R., Kabetu, C., & Ayala, R. (2015). Surgical Missions: A View from Yet Another Side. JAMA Surgery, 150(7), 688.

Persing, S., Patel, A., Clune, J. E., Steinbacher, D. M., & Persing, J. A. (2015). The Repair of International Clefts in the Current Surgical Landscape. The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 26(4), 1126-1128.

Brooke, S., Samson, T., & Mackay D. (2015). Challenges of Organizing Mission Surgery in Resource Limited Environments. The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 26(4), 1075-1078.

Carlson, L., Hatcher, K. W., Vander Burg, R., et al. (2015). A Health Systems Perspective on the Mission Model for Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Surgery: A Matter of Sustainability or Responsibility? The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 26(4), 1079-1083.

Simmons, B. J., Gishen, K. E., Dalsania, R. M., & Thaller, S. R. (2015). An Evaluation of the Value of Plastic Surgery Mission Trips in Resident Education by Attending Physicians. The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 26(4), 1091-1094.

Schönmeyr, B., Wendby, L., Sharma, M. et al. (2015). Limited Chances of Speech Improvement After Late Cleft Palate Repair. The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 26(4), 1182-1185.

Hackenburg, B., Ramos, M., Campbell, A., et al. (2015). Measuring and Comparing the Cost-Effectiveness of Surgical Care Delivery in Low-Resource Settings: Cleft Lip and Palate as a Model. The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 26(4), 1121-1125.

Schönmeyr, B., Wendby, L., Sharma, M., et al. (2015). Speech and Speech-Related Quality of Life After Late Palate Repair: A Patient's Perspective. The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 26(5), 1513-1516

Aznar, M. L., Schönmeyr, B., Echaniz, G., et al. (2015). Role of Postoperative Antimicrobials in Cleft Palate Surgery: Prospective, Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Study in India. Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, 136(1), 59e-66e.

Figueiredo, J. C., Ly, S., Magee, K. S., et al. (2015). Parental risk factors for oral clefts among Central Africans, Southeast Asians, and Central Americans. Clinical and Molecular Teratology, 103(10), 863-879.

Costa, M. A., Yao, C. A., Gillenwater, T. J., Taghva, G. H., Abrishami, S., Green, T. A., & Magee, W. P. (2015). Telemedicine in Cleft Care: Reliability and Predictability in Regional and International Practice SettingsThe Journal of craniofacial surgery26(4), 1116–1120.

2014

Kodali, R. R., Saipriya, T., Rao, N., & Sitaramacharyulu, P. (2014). Study of the Epidemiological Aspects of Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate. Indian Journal of Public Health Research & Development, 5.1, 141-145.

Campbell, A., Restrepo, C., Mackay, D., et al. (2014). Scalable, Sustainable, Cost-Effective Surgical Care: A Model for Safety and Quality in the Developing World, Part I: Challenge and Commitment. The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 25(5), 1674-1679.

Campbell, A., Restrepo, C., Mackay, D., Sherman, R., Varma, A., Ayala, R., et al. (2014). Scalable, Sustainable, Cost-Effective Surgical Care: A Model for Safety and Quality in the Developing World, Part II: Program Development and Quality Care. The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 25(5), 1680-1684.

Campbell, A., Restrepo, C., Mackay, D., Sherman, R., Varma, A., Ayala, R., et al. (2014). Scalable, Sustainable, Cost-Effective Surgical Care: A Model for Safety and Quality in the Developing World, Part III: Impact and Sustainability. The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 25(5), 1685-1689.

Deshpande, G., Campbell, A., Jagtap, R., et al. (2014). Early Complications After Cleft Palate Repair: A Multivariate Statistical Analysis of Patients. The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 25(5), 1614-1618.

Jansen, L., Carillo, L., Wendby, L., et al. (2014). Improving Patient Follow-Up in Developing Regions. The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 25(5), 1640-1643.

Lee, C., Jagtap, R., & Deshpande, G. (2014). Longitudinal Treatment of Cleft Lip and Palate in Developing Countries: Dentistry as part of a Multidisciplinary Endeavor. The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 25(5), 1626-1631.

Schönmeyr, B., Restrepo, C., Wendby, L., Gillenwater, J., & Campbell, A. (2014). Lessons Learned From Two Consecutive Cleft Lip and Palate Missions and the Impact of Patient Education. The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 25(5), 1610-1613.

Nagengast, E. S., Ramos, M. S., Sarma, H., Deshpande, G., Hatcher, K., Magee, W. P., & Campbell, A. (2014). Surgical Education Through Video Broadcasting. The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 25(5), 1619-1621.

Nagengast, E. S., Caterson, E., Magee, W. P., Hatcher, K., Ramos, M. S., & Campbell, A. (2014). Providing More Than Health Care: The Dynamics of Humanitarian Surgery Efforts on the Local Microeconomy. The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, 25(5), 1622-1625.

Purnell, C. A. (2014). Operation Smile and the Guwahati Comprehensive Cleft Care Center: Multidisciplinary Global Activism in Plastic Surgery. Plastic Surgical Nursing, 34(4), 181-182.

Figueiredo, J. C., Ly, S., Raimondi, H., et al. (2014). Genetic risk factors for orofacial clefts in Central Africans and Southeast Asians. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A, 164(10), 2572-2580.

Malherbe, V., Bosenberg, A. T., Lomeli, A. K., Neser, C., Pienaar, C. H., & Madaree, A. (2014). Regional anesthesia for cleft lip surgery in a developing world setting. South African Journal of Surgery, 52(4), 108-110.

2013

Bermudez, L., Trost, K., & Ayala, R. (2013). Investing in a surgical outcomes auditing system. Plastic Surgery International, vol 2013, article ID 671786.

Carlson, L., Hatcher, K. W., & Vander Burg, R. (2013). Elevated Infant Mortality Rates Among Oral Cleft and Isolated Oral Cleft Cases: A Meta-Analysis of Studies From 1943 to 2010. The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal, 50(1), 2-12.

Patel, A., Clune, J. E., Steinbacher, D. M., & Persing, J. A. (2013). Comprehensive Cleft Center: A Paradigm Shift in Cleft Care. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 131(2), 312-313.

Rivera, M. E., Hexem, K. R., Wormer, J. W., Vinelli, E., & Feudtner, C. (2013). Parents satisfaction with repair of paediatric cleft lip/palate in Honduras. Paediatrics and International Child Health, 33(3), 127-128.

Mednick, L., Snyder, J., Schook, C., Blood, E. A., Brown, S., & Weatherley-White, R. (2013). Causal Attributions of Cleft Lip and Palate Across Cultures. The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal, 50(6), 655-661.

2012

Magee, W. P., Raimondi, H. M., Beers, M., & Koech, M. C. (2012). Effectiveness of International Surgical Program Model to Build Local Sustainability. Plastic Surgery International, 2012, Article ID 185725.

Lanteri, A. C., Parcells, B. W., Lizarraga, A. K., Magee Jr., W., & Bermudez, L. (2012). A Cross-sectional Comparison of Cleft Lip Severity in 3 Regional Populations. Eplasty, 12, 98-107.

Bajnrauh, R. (2012). The Regan Fellowship: A Window Into International Surgical Care. Annals of Plastic Surgery, 69(5), 500-501.

Otero, L., Bermudez, L., Lizarraga, K., Tangco, I., Gannaban, R., & Meles, D. (2012). A Comparative Study of Facial Asymmetry in Philippine, Colombian, and Ethiopian Families with Nonsyndromic Cleft Lip Palate. Plastic Surgery International, vol 2012, article ID 580769.

2011

Campbell, A., Sullivan, M., Sherman, R., & Magee, W. P. (2011). The Medical Mission and Modern Cultural Competency Training. Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 212(1), 124-129.

Ott, B. B., & Olson, R. M. (2011). Ethical Issues of Medical Missions: The Clinicians’ View. HEC Forum, 23(2), 105-113.

Bermudez, L. E. & Lizarraga, A. K. (2011). Operation Smile: How to measure its success. Annals of Plastic Surgery, 67(3), 205-208.

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