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Dr. Letra is a dentist-scientist at the UTHealth School of Dentistry at Houston where she is a Professor of Diagnostic and Biomedical Sciences and member of the Center for Craniofacial Research. Her research laboratory focuses integrating large-scale phenotypic and genotypic data to facilitate understanding of the etiology of complex craniofacial traits such as cleft lip/palate, dental anomalies, and oral inflammatory conditions. Her work has identified many novel genes and genetic variants contributing to the etiology of these disorders, and also highlighted the potential for shared genetic etiology for combined phenotypes of birth defects and cancer, and poor oral health and adverse systemic health outcomes. Another aspect of her work focuses on characterizing genetic risk loci using in vitro and in vivo model systems to improve understanding of the mechanisms underlying craniofacial/oral complex traits. The ultimate goal of Dr. Letra’s research is to uncover genetic factors that can be used to inform preventive efforts and/or precision therapies for patients affected with these conditions.

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