Dr. David Zajac, an associate professor in the Department of Dental Ecology and the speech-language pathology director of the UNC Craniofacial Center, recently received a $10,000 New Century Scholars Research Grant from the American Speech-Language-Hearing (ASHA) Foundation. The grant will go towards Zajac’s work to examine the efficacy of artificial palates in infants with cleft abnormalities.
Zajac received the funding for his project, Effects of Feeding Plates on Oral Motor Coordination of Infants with Unrepaired Cleft Palate. The study will determine if use of an artificial palate (feeding plate) prior to surgery promotes a more coordinated pattern of suck, swallow, and breathing in infants during bottle feeding.
“This grant will help facilitate more research, which will lead to more concrete findings, about how the use of artificial palates in infants with craniofacial and cleft abnormalities may normalize the feeding process,” said Zajac. “Hopefully this research will allow us to provide those infants with the best treatment options possible, leading to a normal life.”
The ASHA Foundation’s grants are designed to encourage innovative scientific studies by talented investigators who will advance the field’s research priorities.
“I’m encouraged that the ASHA Foundation found this to be something that needed more evaluation and offered the funding to make it happen,” said Zajac.