Jacqueline Starr, MS, MPH, PhD

  • Associate Member of the Staff

    Director, Epidemiology and Biostatistics Core

    Lecturer, Department of Oral Health Science and Epidemiology, Harvard School of Dental Medicine

  • forsyth.org:jstarr:Email
  • Publications

Jackie Starr wears two hats, one as Director of Forsyth’s Epidemiology and Biostatistics Core, and the other as a principal investigator. As Director of the core, she plays a key support role for much of Forsyth’s research. She helps Forsyth investigators design their research studies. She also analyzes data to answer questions in basic science and clinical oral health research.

Some of these projects involve novel technologies—technologies that are so new that we do not yet know the best way to analyze the data they yield. When the need arises, Starr and her colleagues help develop new statistical methods. These methods-related projects relate to oral microbial ecology, school-based caries prevention programs, large-scale genomics projects, associations between systemic conditions and periodontal disease, and predictors of early childhood caries.

As a principal investigator, Starr's own research program focuses on craniofacial birth defects. She is interested in both the epidemiology of congenital craniofacial conditions and improving treatment options for children who suffer from these conditions.  “In addition to the cosmetic issues, children with these birth defects often have trouble eating, breathing, and hearing. We are conducting research to learn more about why these defects happen and how to prevent them.”

Starr is currently investigating genetic variations that may cause craniofacial microsomia (CFM; also called hemifacial microsomia). CFM occurs in 1 in 3,000 to 5,000 live births and involves the asymmetric underdevelopment of the lower jaw and external ears. In a different study, she is using publicly available hospital discharge data to look at outcomes of surgery to correct cleft lip and palate. Specifically, she is assessing whether complication rates are different in hospitals that perform many operations per year compared to hospitals that perform only a few such procedures each year. Starr also studies the causes and outcomes of single-suture craniosynostosis (premature fusion of the sutures in infants’ skulls) and deformational plagiocephaly (asymmetric flattening of the back of infants’ skulls) which is exacerbated by spending too much time lying on their backs.


Yale University, BS, 1990, Biology
University of Washington School of Public Health, MPH, 2000, Epidemiology
University of Washington School of Public Health, MS, 2000, Biostatistics
University of Washington School of Public Health, PhD, 2003, Epidemiology