Five-Year Achievement for Research and Creative Activity Award

Perry works with student Thanh Tran in a sound booth.

Perry works with student Thanh Tran in a sound booth.

Dr. Jamie Perry, associate professor in ECU’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, is a leading expert in velopharyngeal anatomy and has developed imaging processes using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRIs) that have challenged traditional clinical practices and led to a shift in the approach to cleft palate care. Due to her research, more cleft craniofacial teams are implementing MRI into routine clinical care.

Perry also heads the Speech Imaging & Visualization Laboratory at ECU that works to improve the understanding of cleft palate speech. Cleft lip, with or without cleft palate, is the most common birth defect in the United States. Children are born with a hole in the roof of the mouth, which affects feeding, speech and resonance.

Her research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, enabled the development of multiple protocols for imaging speech muscles of oral, pharyngeal and velopharyngeal motions. As a result, clinicians have gained valuable knowledge through imaging that better prepares them to treat patients with cleft palate and craniofacial anomalies.

Her team has established one of the largest MRI databases available to study the velopharyngeal anatomy of children and found significant differences in the velopharyngeal anatomy (prevents leakage of air into the nasal passage during speech) based on age, gender and race/ethnicity, which has significant implications for clinical management and surgical decisions before a cleft palate repair.

Her peers across the country recognize her as one of the leading experts in the field of velopharyngeal anatomy. Dr. Mark Mooney, professor and vice-chair of the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Oral Biology, says that Perry is internationally known for her work and the three-dimensional models she produces have significantly improved clinical and therapeutic management for velopharyngeal insufficiency.

Perry regularly collaborates with doctors and researchers across the country to improve the treatment of cleft palate and includes ECU students in her research efforts, allowing them to gain invaluable knowledge and experience.

She came to ECU in 2011 as an assistant professor and is now an associate professor and department chair. Since joining ECU, Perry has maintained a fully funded research lab supported by the National institutes of Health and multiple foundations.