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Aida is a lecturer and Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon at the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Teknologi MARA, Malaysia, who is carrying out a PhD at the SJWRI with support from the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education and the University of Teknologi MARA. Her PhD research is in the area of tissue and bone engineering in cleft lip and palate patients. Cleft lip and cleft palate, one of the most common congenital anomalies, are usually treated surgically with the aim of achieving a normal facial appearance, as well as the ability to feed, speak, and hear without significantly affecting the ultimate facial and psychosocial development of the child. However, due to limited local soft and hard tissue for reconstructing the facial structure there is often a need for secondary tissue augmentation from an extra-oral (outside the mouth) site. Tissue engineering may provide an alternative means for reconstruction in cleft lip and palate patients, minimizing the issues of donor site morbidity as well as long-term complications due to excessive scarring from the primary surgical site, thus reducing disfigurement, and duration of treatment and hospital cost in surgery patients.

Why are you doing a PhD?

In order to further develop my academic career beyond my clinical role, I need to obtain significant knowledge in the research world and be able to conduct research competently and independently. I would like to learn from the distinguished researchers at the University of Otago in order to gain experience in conducting laboratory experiments, able to plan the most accurate research methodology and able to carry out statistical analysis.

Why did you choose the SJWRI and Otago for your PhD studies?

Being rated among the top 30 dental schools in the world makes University of Otago my favourite choice, beside the presence of distinguished and honourable academics in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, in particular Prof Dr Darryl Tong and his excellent research team. Learning from the best researchers and team will bring out the best of me. I am also looking forward to exploring the beauty of New Zealand. Out of office time, I love to be with my daughter and my husband doing family activities such as sight seeing, watching movie and some shopping!

What's next after your PhD?

After completing my PhD I will return to Malaysia and to the University of Teknologi MARA. My long-term plan is to lead a tissue and bone engineering research team for my university and will establish a local and international expert committee for clinical research and innovation in cleft lip and palate cases, with the aim of increasing quality of life for cleft lip and palate patients. I want to inspire a new generation to be a part of my fraternity in order to increase quality of medical and dental service, research potential and public awareness of these disorders and their treatment.

Project title
Theorizing A New Model for Tissue Engineering in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (Cleft Lip and Palate Perspective).

Professor Darryl Tong, Professor Alison Rich and Dr Haizal Hussaini

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