Children’s Cleft Lip and Palate Specialist Joins UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson, Banner – University Medicine

Thursday, October 22, 2020

TUCSON, Ariz. – The University of Arizona Health Sciences and Banner – University Medicine are pleased to welcome children’s cleft lip and palate specialist, Jonathan Skirko, MD, MHPA, MPH.

Dr. Skirko has been appointed associate professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine — Tucson, Department of Otolaryngology.

In addition, Dr. Skirko will serve as medical director of the Cleft and Craniofacial Program at Banner – University Medicine Tucson and will see patients at Banner University Medicine – North, as well as treat patients in an inpatient setting at Banner Children’s – Diamond Children’s Medical Center.

Jonathan Skirko, MD, MHPA, MPHDr Skirko is a skilled clinician with a passion for caring for children with complex craniofacial and aerodigestive disorders, particularly children with cleft lip and/or cleft palate. In addition, he provides broad clinical care and innovative treatments in otolaryngology, advanced ear, nose and throat medicine.

Cleft lip and palate is a common correctable birth defect involving openings or splits in the roof of the mouth and lip. One in 1,600 babies is born with a cleft lip and palate; 1 in 1,700 is born with a cleft lip; 1 in 2,800 is born with a cleft palate, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The causes for clefts among most children are unknown.

A surgeon-scientist with funded research from several institutes, Dr. Skirko’s research allows him to extend his impact on the lives of children with cleft lip and cleft palate beyond patients he personally can treat. One area of his clinical research focuses on developing and measuring outcomes important to families. He created a quality-of-life questionnaire for children with velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI), a cleft-related speech problem. This instrument – the VPI Effects on Life Outcomes (VELO) questionnaire – is used by cleft centers across the country and has been translated into eight languages. He has received grants from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). Both projects work to advance clinical research for young children with Pierre Robin Sequence (PRS), a rare craniofacial abnormality.

Dr. Skirko’s work has resulted in numerous primary research articles, book chapters, national and international presentations and awards in the field of otolaryngology and pediatric facial plastic surgery. In addition, he is editor of the Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Journal, a bimonthly peer-reviewed journal of the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association.

Dr. Skirko completed his undergraduate studies at Gonzaga University and earned a master’s degree in health policy and administration at Washington State University. He then completed his medical degree at the University of Washington and remained in Seattle for his residency in otolaryngology, head and neck surgery.

At the University of Washington, he completed a two-year clinical research fellowship with the support of a National Institutes of Health T32 training grant, while also obtaining a master’s of public health degree in epidemiology. Dr. Skirko continued his surgical training at Colorado Children's Hospital in Denver with a fellowship in pediatric otolaryngology and additional focus on pediatric facial plastic surgery.

Dr. Skirko has traveled to Peru and Ecuador to perform cleft lip, cleft palate and VPI surgery, and works closely with the Global Smile Foundation.

For an appointment with Dr. Skirko or any UArizona/Banner – University Medicine physician, please call (520) 694-8888.


About Banner Children’s – Diamond Children’s Medical Center
Banner Children’s – Diamond Children’s Medical Center provides pediatric care for children, from newborns to teens. Services include emergency care, heart disorders, traumatic brain injury, autism and developmental disorders, cancer, diabetes and endocrinology, gastrointestinal and nutritional disorders, neurological problems, orthopedics, intensive care needs and more. It is the only pediatric medical facility in Arizona connected to an academic research facility — the University of Arizona Steele Children’s Research Center — where physician-scientists provide access to groundbreaking science and research to advance children’s health. For more information, visit (Follow us: Facebook).

About the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson
The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson is shaping the future of medicine through state-of-the-art medical education programs, groundbreaking research and advancements in patient care in Arizona and beyond. Founded in 1967, the college boasts more than 50 years of innovation, ranking among the top medical schools in the nation for research and primary care. Through the university's partnership with Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, the college is leading the way in academic medicine. For more information, visit (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn).

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences
The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. UArizona Health Sciences includes the Colleges of Medicine (Tucson and Phoenix), Nursing, Pharmacy, and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona, the greater Southwest and around the world to provide next-generation education, research and outreach. A major economic engine, Health Sciences employs nearly 5,000 people, has approximately 4,000 students and 900 faculty members, and garners $200 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram).

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