The 2007 Program Committee of the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention, partnering with
the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), Neurobehavioral
Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention (NBTS), and Behavioral Toxicology Society (BTS) arranged
for an outstanding and expansive scientific program that includes education
courses (2), scientific symposia (6), and workshops (3) as well as opportunities
for open research communications as platform talks or poster presentations.
The session topics address newer concepts in the field and are likely
to generate lively interaction.
The Education Course will revisit principles in teratology with a focus
on basic concepts and research applications. Topics include methods for
detecting birth defects, regulatory study design and interpretation, maternal-fetal
considerations, animal-human concordance, nutritional factors, and new
information in understanding mechanisms. Our Sunrise Mini-Course will
address developmental and reproductive toxicity testing of biopharmaceuticals–agents
used for therapeutic or in vivo diagnostic purposes that are produced
(engineered) by biotechnology. Separate registration is required for both
the Education Course and the Sunrise Mini-Course, so please register early!
The general scientific program will begin Sunday afternoon with a joint
symposium on prenatal drug abuse and adolescent developmental trajectories.
More than 9.2 million children (12.7 percent) live with at least one illicit-drug-using
parent or other adult. Mounting findings warn of the harmful links between
parental drug use and children’s developmental trajectories, and
these effects may be exacerbated by prenatal drug exposure. This symposium
will focus on the effects of prenatal drug exposure, the multiple factors
associated with parent drug use, and potential connections to subsequent
drug abuse vulnerability. A second joint TS/NBTS/OTIS symposium will be
held Monday on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). This session will
address a wide range of basic and clinical issues associated with alcohol
use during pregnancy. Prenatal alcohol damage affects an estimated 1%
of liveborn infants and is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation.
The complex etiology of FASD requires basic research to improve mechanistic
understanding of prenatal alcohol damage and clinical research to identify
at-risk newborns at the earliest possible age.
The March of Dimes will sponsor a symposium Tuesday on epigenetics and
developmental programming of metabolic disorders. Clinical and epidemiological
studies have shown significant correlations between the in utero and early
life environments and increased risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease,
diabetes, and obesity that are components of the metabolic syndrome. Understanding
what epigenetic marks critically scar the genome is a new area referred
to as “fetal or developmental programming”. This symposium
will present the state of the science in developmental programming with
a particular focus on the metabolic syndrome. It also marks the 10th Anniversary
of symposium support from the March of Dimes! Wiley-Liss will sponsor
a symposium Wednesday on molecular clocks in embryonic development. This
symposium, organized by the Publications Committee, will cover a new and
exciting area of research that investigates how cells measure time in
the embryo. Studies have found that developmental timekeeping is controlled
by intrinsic “molecular clocks” expressed in cyclic pulses
with periodicity independent of popular oscillatory functions such as
the cell cycle. Their timing is essential for understanding the patterning
of temporal gradients such as in somite segmentation, and this work can
be translated into understanding human vertebral anomalies.
The Office of Rare Diseases, National Institutes of Health, DHHS will
sponsor a symposium Wednesday on genetic and environmental risk factors
for several major birth defects. The interaction of genetic susceptibility
and environmental exposure explains some of the variance in expression
of adverse genetic traits and offers an opportunity for prevention of
exposure in susceptible individuals. This symposium will examine four
disorders (renal agenesis, polydactyly, hypospadias, and SALL1-related
malformations) to illustrate the ways in which the environment may interact
with genetic endowment to produce rare but important malformations. On
Thursday we have a symposium that addresses the impact of personalized
nutrition and medicine on perinatal development. The goal of personalized
medicine is to get the right therapeutic to the right individual at the
right time. Dietary agents such as vitamin A and folic acid are prime
examples of food-borne chemicals that can be better understood at this
level and thereby consumed in a manner promoting normal perinatal development.
These and other cases will be used to demonstrate the utility of personalized
nutrition and medicine to enhance children’s health.
ILSI Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI)-Developmental
and Reproductive Toxicology Technical Committee will sponsor a platform
session Sunday organized by the Public Affairs Committee which will be
derived from abstract submissions. This year, the theme will be nonclinical
studies that focus on applications and lessons learned regarding pharmacogenomics
in drug development and regulatory science. “Pharmacogenomics”
investigates how an individual’s genetic composition affects response
to drugs. Although many factors can influence the individual response
to drugs, an understanding of individual genetic makeup is key to advanced
diagnosis of individual susceptibility, as well as more powerful therapeutic
efficacy and safety.
New research in cheminformatics and bioinformatics
is underway to utilize emerging resources in information technology and
molecular databases for making predictions related to developmental and
reproductive toxicity. A Tuesday workshop will address the applications
of high-information content data in reproductive and developmental toxicology.
On Thursday, a workshop will tackle the issue of achieving worldwide elimination
of folic acid-preventable spina bifida and anencephaly. Folate optimization
is essential to this important public health campaign and this workshop
will include a panel discussion with opportunity for input from meeting
attendees. Also on Thursday, our regional partner the Midwest Teratology
Association, will sponsor a workshop on selective estrogen receptor modulators
As Society tradition, Monday morning will kick-off with the Josef
Warkany Lecture, given annually by a scientist who has significantly contributed
to the field of teratology. The Warkany Lecture will be followed by the
James G. Wilson Publication Award for best paper published in the Teratology
Society journal Birth Defects Research, and later in the day by The Robert
L. Brent Lecture. This year marks the first sponsorship of the Brent Lecture
by Charles River Laboratories, Inc. and will be given by Dr. Kenneth Lyons
Jones. Dr. Jones’ lecture entitled “Alcohol and Pregnancy:
What Have We Learned in 30 Years?” will lead into the FASD symposium.
On Wednesday we will have a special lecture from the 2007 recipient of
the F. Clarke Fraser Award, Dr. Sonia Rasmussen.
On Monday evening all students and fellows are invited to a special
Student Career Event sponsored by MTA/MARTA. An “issues forum”
will be held Tuesday to report on, and discuss, the 2007 Strategic Planning
Session held every 5 years by the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention. This is an important
time for input to chart the course of the future of our Society. And of
course the usual opportunities exist to firm-up special relations with
colleagues at the Welcome Reception on Sunday and the Banquet on Wednesday.
As you can see, the 2007 program represents
the great strengths of our multidisciplinary Society and presents something
for everyone. We invite you to experience the excitement in Pittsburgh
rev. 6-April, 2007
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