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Cleft and Craniofacial Team

Team Director and Pediatric Plastic Surgeon

  • Clinton Morrison, M.D.

Dr. Morrison is the Team Director and Plastic Surgeon for the Cleft and Craniofacial Center. He considers it a true privilege to care for each unique child with cleft and craniofacial conditions at the University of Rochester. He enjoys getting to know not only the patient, but also the family, and working together to provide a high quality treatment plan customized to each child’s needs. The Cleft and Craniofacial Center provides state-of-the-art cleft and craniofacial medical and surgical care in an environment that is patient and family focused.
View Dr. Morrison's professional profile.

Team Leader and Nurse Practitioner

  • Melisande J. Ploutz, P.N.P., C.L.C.

Mel is the Team Leader and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner for the Cleft and Craniofacial Center. She has been with the team for over 10 years and is committed to leading and educating others on all aspects of cleft and craniofacial care. Mel is an active member of the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association, and she was recently elected to the Board of Directors. She is also a Certified Lactation Counselor and has knowledge and expertise in helping families with breastfeeding.
View Melisande Ploutz's professional profile.

Team Coordinator

  • Elizabeth B. Huette

Liz Huette is an experienced pediatric nurse and serves as the Team Coordinator for the Cleft and Craniofacial Center. She enjoys getting to know our patients and families and takes pride in acting as a liaison between patients, families, and the multidisciplinary team. As the team coordinator, her goal is to assist patients and families in understanding, coordinating, and implementing their unique treatment plans as well as to address any questions or concerns.

Pediatric Plastic Surgeon

  • Sara Neimanis, M.D.

Dr. Neimanis is a pediatric plastic and craniofacial surgeon who joined the Cleft and Craniofacial Center in 2021. She is passionate about caring for patients with clefts, craniosynostosis, and other craniofacial differences in a family-centered way. She is focused on promoting positive and comfortable patient experiences. In additional to performing cleft surgery at home, she travels internationally to do volunteer cleft surgery in other countries.
View Dr. Neimanis' professional profile.

Pediatric Neurosurgeon

  • Howard Silberstein, M.D.

Dr. Howard Silberstein is a board certified neurosurgeon. Since 2001 he has been actively involved as the Pediatric Neurosurgeon involved in all craniofacial surgeries. He works closely with the team in assessing patients and the need for surgical intervention. Over the last 17 years he has been involved in over 350 craniofacial cases. He works closely with the anesthesia team and PICU staff during the hospital post operative course.
View Dr. Silberstein's professional profile.


  • Jennifer West, Ph.D.

Dr. Jennifer West has been the team psychologist since 2005 and greatly enjoys working with each child and their family to identify their unique strengths and help them address any adjustment challenges that they are experiencing.During the team visit, Dr. West completes a short psychosocial interview with patients and families to learn more about different aspects of their life, including family relationships, education, extracurricular interests, and peer relationships. She provides consultation regarding normal child development and reviews strategies that may be helpful to promote positive behavior, coping and self-esteem. Dr. West works closely with the team social worker to ensure that families are connected with additional behavioral health resources in their community, if needed.
View Dr. West's professional profile.

Social Worker

  • Jill P. DelVecchio, L.M.S.W.

As team Social Worker for the Cleft and Craniofacial Center, Jill is uniquely qualified to support patients and their families in their own environment by assessing all the different aspects of their life and culture. Jill has been providing support to children and families within this community and surrounding counties since 2003. She has a breadth of experience in the field of social work, including early education, developmental disabilities, behavioral interventions and advocacy. As a member of our Craniofacial Team, Jill completes a psychosocial assessment with patients and families during their team visit and offers resource information, along with advocacy in addressing barriers to care. Jill is dedicated to enhancing positive outcomes for our patients and their families as well as assessing their needs to ensure access to quality services and supports.

Pediatric Dentist

  • Erin Shope, D.M.D.

Dr. Shope is a Board-certified pediatric dentist committed to creating and maintaining a positive dental experience for children, especially for those born with craniofacial differences. As a member of the Cleft and Craniofacial Center, her passion lies in providing nasoalveolar molding (NAM), a pre-surgical structural treatment, to infants born with cleft lip and palate. She especially enjoys helping these children develop beautiful and healthy smiles.
View Dr. Shope's professional profile.


  • Renee Lynn Roland, D.D.S.

Dr. Renée Roland is from Elma, NY and relocated to Rochester for her postgraduate training at the Eastman Dental Center specializing in orthodontics. During her time at the University of Rochester she developed a passion for helping children with craniofacial anomalies and joined the Cleft and Craniofacial Center immediately following the completion of her residency. Since that time she has thoroughly enjoyed being an active team member in helping these special young patients grow and develop with long term success as the ultimate goal. Her role on the team is helping plan and manage our patient's orthodontic care so they can speak, chew, and smile with comfort and confidence for years to come.
View Dr. Roland's professional profile.

Genetic Counselor

  • Emily Calamaro, M.G.C.

Emily Calamaro is a Certified Genetic Counselor in the Division of Clinical Genetics. She provides clinical genetic counseling for pediatric patients and their families, and additionally serves as the Associate Director for the Master of Science in Genetic Counseling Program through the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. She has been a member of the Cleft and Craniofacial Center since 2016. During your visit, she will obtain medical and family history about your child, provide information about the cause(s), recurrence risks, and implications of cleft and craniofacial conditions for your child and other family members, and may recommend an evaluation with our clinical geneticist.
View Emily Calamaro's professional profile.

Pediatric Otolaryngology

  • Amanda Didas, P.A.-C.

Amanda has been a Physician Assistant in pediatric Otolaryngology since 2007. She practiced at Boston Children’s Hospital for 10 years prior to relocating to this area. She has always had a passion for collaborative, multidisciplinary care. Amanda has been a member of the Cleft and Craniofacial Center since 2017. She greatly enjoys being an active team member and addressing the various Ear, Nose, and Throat needs of our patients.
View Amanda Didas's professional profile.


  • Dawn D'Agostino, M.A., C.C.C.-A.

Dawn D'Agostino is an audiologist on the team. She has 30 years of experience as a clinical audiologist working with children and adults. Dawn became a member of the Craniofacial Team in 2016 and is excited to share her knowledge and clinical expertise with the team, the patients and their families.

Speech Language Pathologist

  • Eileen Marrinan, M.S., C.C.C., M.P.H.

Eileen Marrinan joined the Rochester Cleft & Craniofacial team in 2016. She has been a dedicated cleft speech pathologist for 30 years. She received her Master’s of Science in Speech Pathology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and her Master’s of Public Health degree from Harvard University. Eileen conducts clinical research and has published peer-reviewed papers and chapters in the area of cleft palate and related craniofacial disorders, including 22q deletion syndrome. She has lectured nationally and internationally in these areas. She has taught graduate level courses at a number of universities and currently teaches the Cleft & Craniofacial course at Syracuse University. Eileen is particularly interested in family centered care. This includes helping families better understand their child’s speech difficulties so they can help them achieve normal speech as soon as possible. ​

Pediatric Sleep Medicine Services

  • Heidi Connolly, M.D.

Dr. Heidi Connolly is the Director for Pediatric Sleep Medicine Services at Golisano Children’s Hospital, as well as a valued member on the Craniofacial Team. Some craniofacial abnormalities interfere with sleep and breathing and can cause sleep apnea. Dr. Connolly helps to recognize, diagnose, and treat these problems in the cleft and craniofacial team patients.
View Dr. Connolly's professional profile.

Additional Services Consulted as Needed



Eastman Institute for Oral Health