I was a student for a long time. I particularly enjoyed and learned from my research degree the excitement of knowing a small area in great depth and the results of experimental studies. As a medical doctor, initially very early in my postgraduate career, I was inspired by both the cleft surgery of Brian Sommerlad, and by his enthusiasm for auditing outcomes. I have been passionate ever since about knowing more about how well treatments for cleft lip and palate work. I was on the Steering Group of the James Lind Alliance Cleft Lip and Palate Priority Setting Partnership, the first Chair of the Cleft and Craniofacial Anomalies Clinical Studies Group, and President of the Craniofacial Society of Great Britain and Ireland. During my time as Chair of the CCC CSG we started the Early Careers Researcher Group.

I was Clinical Lead of the West Midlands Cleft Service for many years, and Chair of the Cleft Clinical Directors Special Interest Group. I acted as the local PI for international cleft research projects, and encouraged research and audit within the West Midlands Cleft team which has led to a number of  collaborations and publications.

Funding for cleft research has always been hard to find. I welcome the chance through CLEFT: Bridging the Gap to continue supporting research into improving the lives of children and adults affected by cleft lip and palate.  There are so many fascinating areas where we still know so little.

If you would like to listen to Rona talking about the value of research to cleft professionals and patients, please click here.