Gunvor Semb graduated in 1969 and completed her orthodontic training in 1974. She joined the Oslo Cleft Team and became Head of the Dental Unit in 1987. In 1992 she completed her PhD, “Facial growth in patients with complete cleft lip and palate”. She was appointed adjunct Professor at the University of Oslo in 1995 and subsequently Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester.
Her research with her husband Bill Shaw included an EU Research program (1996-2000), “Standards of care for cleft lip and palate in Europe”. This was followed by the EU framework V program: Eurocran, 2000-2005. She took an active role in establishing an international research program on prevention and treatment of Craniofacial Anomalies with the WHO. Together with colleagues she initiated the Scandcleft Project and in 1997 she became the coordinator of three randomised trials of primary surgery for patients born with unilateral cleft lip and palate. Ten cleft teams participate, 448 patients were recruited and will be followed-up to early adulthood. This was followed by funding from NIH, for a randomised trial of timing of surgery for isolated cleft palate, the TOPS Trial. In 2014 she was appointed commander of the Order of St Olav by the King.
She initiated the Eurocleft Project in 1986