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Annual Meeting 2014

Program Highlights

The 2014 Program Committee of the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention, partnering with the Neurobehavioral Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention (NBTS), has arranged for an outstanding and expansive scientific program. The program for the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention Annual Meeting includes three education courses, eight cutting-edge scientific symposia, eight special lectures, and a two-part student and postdoctoral workshop. There are also five platform sessions and two poster sessions providing opportunities for open research communications and updates on the latest cutting edge research. The session topics address newer concepts in the field and are likely to generate lively interaction.  We will continue our tradition of having an exchange debate with our sister society, the European Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention.  This year’s topic is on whether governments should require the addition of folic acid to foods to prevent neural tube defects. Europe and the United States take very different approaches to folic acid fortification—so this will be a lively discussion! 

Education Courses
Separate registration is required for the Education Course and the Sunrise Mini Course, so please register early!

  • Education Course
    • Session 1: Frontiers in Developmental Biology
      The course will focus on advances in the field of developmental biology that have implications for birth defects research. Topics will include the effects of the microbiome on embryonic and postembryonic development, genomic approaches to understanding development, the role of cilia in embryogenesis, and the effects of nutrition and malnutrition on the developmental program.
    • Session 2: Mechanisms of Abnormal Embryonic Development
      This course will address mechanisms of abnormal development, including the role of oxidative stress in teratogenesis, epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation, such as DNA methylation, histone modification and non-coding RNAs as targets of teratogens, cellular signal transduction pathways, and gene regulatory networks.
  • Sunrise Mini Course
    Applications of Computational Biology in the Study of Birth Defects

    With the aim of being accessible to those with little or no background in computational biology or bioinformatics, the Sunrise Session will shed light on how techniques in this area can be used to prioritize chemicals for further testing, to identify reproductive and developmental outcomes of concern and to analyze and understand gene regulatory networks.

Special Lectures

Narsingh Agnish Fellowship
John M. DeSesso, Exponent
This annual award is presented to recognize career contributions to education in teratology and to facilitate the continuing participation of senior Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention members at the Society’s annual meeting. The Fellow is selected by the Education Committee with the advice of the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention Council.

Josef Warkany Lecture
Teratology v2.0: Building a Path Forward
Thomas B. Knudsen, National Center for Computational Toxicology, US EPA
This award honors Josef Warkany, one of the founding members of the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention and recognizes a scientist who has significantly contributed to the field of teratology during his/her career.

The F. Clarke Fraser Award
Building a Rewarding Career at the Intersection of Research and Policy
Julia M. Gohlke, University of Alabama at Birmingham
This award honors F. Clarke Fraser, one of the founding members of the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention, for his many contributions to the field of developmental toxicology. The recipient will give a presentation related to his/her research. It is intended that the presentation will serve as a demonstration to pre- and postdoctoral students of the development of an independent career in birth defects research.

James G. Wilson Publication Award
Dihydroartemisinin (DHA) Treatment Causes an Arrest of Cell Division and Apoptosis in Rat Embryonic Erythroblasts in Whole Embryo Culture
Lorraine Posobiec, GlaxoSmithKline
This annual award is presented in recognition of the best paper published in the journal Birth Defects Research and honors a founding member of the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention.

TS/NBTS Joint Lecture

Epigenetic Mechanisms in Intellectual Developmental Disabilities
J. David Sweatt, The University of Alabama, Birmingham School Medicine
This presentation will discuss the potential role of epigenetic molecular mechanisms in intellectual disabilities and learning and memory disorders. The idea that conservation of epigenetic mechanisms for information storage represents a unifying model in biology, with epigenetic mechanisms being utilized for cellular memory at levels from behavioral memory to development to cellular differentiation will be addressed.

Special Lecture

Systems Medicine and Proactive P4 Medicine: A Revolution in Healthcare
Leroy Hood, Institute for Systems Biology
The challenge for biology in the 21st century is the need to deal with its incredible complexity. One powerful way to think of biology is to view it as an informational science. This view leads to the conclusion that biological information is captured, mined, integrated by biological networks and finally passed off to molecular machines for execution. Hence the challenge in understanding biological complexity is that of deciphering the operation of dynamic biological networks across the three time scales of life—evolution, development and physiological responses. Systems approaches to biology are focused on delineating and deciphering dynamic biological networks and their interactions with simple and complex molecular machines. I will define our contemporary view of systems biology and then focus on our efforts at a systems approach to disease—looking at prion disease in mice. We have just published a study that has taken more than 5 years—that lays out the principles of a systems approach to disease including dealing with the striking signal to noise problems of high throughput biological measurements and biology itself (e.g. polymorphisms). I will also discuss the emerging technologies (measurement and visualization) that will transform biology and medicine over the next 10 years—including next generation DNA sequencing, microfluidic protein chips and single-cell analyses. I will as well discuss some of the computational and mathematical challenges that are fundamental to the revolution in biology and medicine. It appears that systems medicine, together with emerging technologies, Big Data and patient-activated social networks will transform medicine over the next 5-20 years from its currently reactive state to a mode that is predictive, personalized, preventive and participatory (P4) medicine. I will discuss the impact P4 medicine has on society and several ISB-strategic partnerships that have been established to attack the technical and societal barriers to the realization of P4 medicine

Special Lecture

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Kenneth Lyons Jones, University of California, San Diego, CA MotherToBaby
This presentation will provide a retrospective look at 40 years of the Fetal Alcohol syndrome (FAS). The presentation will be broken into three parts: recognition of the disorder; reaction to that recognition; and finally, where we are today.

European Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention and TS Exchange Lecture
Is Lack of Mandatory Folic Acid Fortification Public Health Malpractice?
The Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention and the European Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention exist to prevent birth defects. It is the goal of the joint Teratology, European Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention presentations this year to prompt both organizations to issue policy statements recommending that all governments require folic acid fortification to prevent Spina Bifida F and Anencephaly F. It remains a tragic irony that the two randomized controlled trials that proved that folic acid prevents these birth defects were European studies and no European country has yet to require folic acid fortification. We believe that our two societies and their members can be in each country the driving force that leads to the prevention of these birth defects by mandatory folic acid fortification.

Robert L. Brent Lecture: Teratogen Update
Teratology and Public Health: Working Together to Make Recommendations for Pregnant Women in the Face of Uncertainty
Sonja A. Rasmussen, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This lecture is presented to facilitate the discussion of new and old teratogens during the annual meeting.


  • Hot Topics Symposium
    This Hot Topics Symposium will describe the recent recognition of a cluster of babies born with anencephaly or spina bifida in a three county area of Washington state. Speakers will include Sara Barron a nurse who first recognized the increase in neural tube defects and other speakers invited including those who investigated this or similar clusters.
  • TS/NBTS Joint Symposium: Epigenetics and Birth Defects
    The molecular processes involved in orchestration of embryonic development have long been considered to be primarily genetic. Numerous genetic approaches involving both human populations and animal models have advanced the identification of genes involved in various birth defects.  Much emphasis has been placed on the search for single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), where there is a DNA sequence variation, deletion, or addition of a single nucleotide, within a gene. It has, however, become increasingly apparent that the genome is also organized in an entirely different plane, 'above' the level of DNA sequence—at the epigenetic level. What has emerged is the notion that changes at this level may very well be responsible for many adverse developmental outcomes. Distinguished speakers will address a variety of interrelated topics related to developmental sequelae of epigenetic alterations.
    Why you should attend: To learn why genetics alone may not be enough to predict risk for birth defects.
  • ILSI-HESI Symposium
    Cross-Industry Data Survey of the Value of Rabbit Developmental
    Toxicity Data in the Risk Assessment for Pharmaceutics

    The results from a 2 year project investigating the testing for embryofetal testing in rat and rabbit for various compounds will be discussed from an industry and regulatory perspective. The ILSI Health and Environmental Sciences Institute’s Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology Technical Committee organized a cross-industry survey in which anonymized embryo fetal development and toxicokinetic data from several hundred preregistration and marketed drugs have been entered into an EPA ToxRefDB style database. Independent expert users have interpreted the data to address fundamental questions about maternal and fetal species sensitivity based on exposure, rather than just on administered dose. In addition, the severity of embryofetal findings at the lowest adverse effect level in the two species was reviewed to quantitate the frequency with which lesser signs of embryofetal effects (e.g., delays in ossification) are driving LOAEL determination. The symposium will provide opportunity to debate the current testing paradigm and possible changes to either the timing of conducting studies in one or two species and/or the value of two species for all classes of compound and modes of action.
    Why you should attend: To learn whether having tests in rabbits contributes to our ability to predict developmental and reproductive risks from pharmaceuticals.
  • March of Dimes Symposium
    Advances in Early Diagnosis of Birth Defects and Adverse Perinatal Outcomes
    The March of Dimes “Advances in Early Diagnosis of Birth Defects and Adverse Perinatal Outcomes” symposium will focus on different modalities to facilitate earlier identification of birth defects in human pregnancy. Specifically, the role of first trimester ultrasound and fetal echocardiography as well as second trimester fetal MRI will be discussed. The symposium will also feature a talk on the state-of-the-art translational research on the development of epidermal electronics (foldable, stretchable electrode arrays that can noninvasively measure neural signals) and their application in pregnancy monitoring, neonate brain monitoring, and diagnosis of cognitive deficits in neonates.
    Why you should attend: To learn about exciting new technologies being developed that will help identify birth defects prenatally and allow wireless monitoring during pregnancy.
  • TS/NBTS Joint Symposium
    National Children’s Study
    The integration of exposure and outcome data remains challenging. The National Children’s Study, a large national birth cohort study, developed an approach that begins with a model of health that has four dimensions of performance, experience, adaptability, and potential. These dimensions are characterized by the composite of many specific items organized into domains. In addition to a theoretical framework, the NCS developed Use Cases to frame data collection temporally. Organizing the data collection based on the data source of whether the resulting data refer to individual phenotypic data or environmental exposure data and then integrating the data source within the framework provides a functional methodology to describe potential associations between exposure and outcome systematically for a wide range of both exposures and outcomes.
  • Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome Symposium
    The Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome (TDS) hypothesis attributes reproductive disorders of newborn (cryptorchidism, hypospadias) and young adult males (impaired spermatogenesis, testicular germ cell cancer) to complex genetic and environmental factors during fetal development. Clinical, molecular and epidemiological studies have implicated environmental risk factors, including phthalates, flame retardants, phthalates, pesticides and organotins. Recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) as well as fetal testicular xenografts are beginning to elucidate the mechanistic basis of TDS. This symposium aims to generate discussion on how systems-based approaches can be used in understanding the TDS pathogenesis.
  • Grant Officers Roundtable
    The round table will begin with Program Officers from several agencies providing a brief overview of their institution and/or division. After the introductions the officers will take funding and grant related questions from the audience. The officers will also be available throughout the meeting to meet with attendees.
  • Wiley-Blackwell Symposium
    From Fleas to Fish and Beyond: Advances in Alternative Assays to Predict Developmental Toxicity Symposium
    Traditional animal studies directed at characterizing the hazard potential of a test agent during development are intensive in time, technical resources, test material, and cost. Furthermore, testing for developmental and reproductive toxicity accounts for approximately 60 percent of the total animal use in a standard mammalian toxicity testing package. This disproportionate use of animals for reproductive and developmental toxicity testing represents a large challenge, but an enormous opportunity to reduce animal use in toxicity testing if new, more efficient and optimized testing strategies can be devised. While in vivo mammalian models will likely remain for the foreseeable future as the definitive tests for regulatory assessments of drugs and industrial chemicals with potential for significant human exposure, there is a complementary need for less intensive, higher throughput assays for use in other applications. This session will explore the state of the science regarding in vitro developmental toxicity methods playing a role in more efficient testing strategies. Use of these models to examination relationships between molecular initiating events and their biological consequences, and for the effects of chemical exposures to interacting stressors (e.g. chemical and nutrition) will be discussed. Although not strictly in vitro, lower organism models which can be cultivated in standard tissue culture dishes will also be highlighted, as these are becoming increasingly popular for use in predictive screens. The session aims to provide information on data interpretation, sensitivity and precision, and the translatability of the respective assay data to humans.
  • Public Affairs Symposium
    Thrombosis during Pregnancy: Risks, Prevention, and Treatment for Mother and Fetus
    Pregnant women are at an increased risk for thrombotic events including deep venous thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE), cerebral vein thrombosis, myocardial infarction, and stroke. Thrombosis and hypercoaguability during pregnancy have implications for both maternal and fetal health. Procoagulant conditions (thrombophilias) have been linked to recurrent miscarriage and other pregnancy complications. Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS), an autoimmune condition that often presents with thrombosis, is associated with a high rate of pregnancy loss, especially in the first trimester but also in the second trimester of pregnancy, as well as a high rate of stillbirths and Fetal Growth Restriction. The management of women with thrombophilias is challenging due to potential for teratogenic effects of some products that are approved to treat thrombotic events and dose selection to ensure efficacy while avoiding potential adverse effects for the mother and the fetus. The symposium will discuss the factors contributing to the increased risk for thrombosis during pregnancy and new approaches for selection of therapies. Speakers include a medical team leader from US FDA and academic experts in cutting-edge clinical research from international research centers.


  • Student and Postdoctoral Lunch Workshop
    Building a Successful Career in Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology
    Two lunchtime workshops will provide career development advice for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers followed by a focused panel discussion to address attendees’ specific questions. Speakers will represent government, academe, and industry to provide perspectives on training and skills needed for different career tracks. Specific topics include improving writing skills, navigating the publication process, implementing Good Laboratory Practices (GLP), integrative thinking, and NextGen training needs for developmental and reproductive toxicologists.
    Who Should Attend:  Students and Postdoctoral Fellows.

Special Events

The Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention is pleased to offer a venue for companies who are active in the field of teratology to meet with the Annual Meeting attendees. Exhibitors will be on hand to discuss their products and how they can help you achieve your research and professional goals. Plan to visit the exhibitors and learn more about their products and services during the Welcome Reception and both poster sessions.

Welcome Reception
Don’t miss the first networking opportunity of the meeting and a chance to participate in the silent auction. This is an excellent time establish collaborative opportunities, interact with Exhibitors, and to catch up with old friends and make new ones.

TS/NBTS Joint Poster Session 1 and Poster Session 2
Attendees present abstracts during the poster sessions of the meeting. The poster sessions provide a relaxed atmosphere to interact with both trainees and established scientists while viewing the latest in birth defects research.

Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention 33rd Annual Volleyball Game
Whether you want to join the game or cheer on your colleagues, don’t miss this landmark event. For the past 32 years the attendees of the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention meeting have gathered on a local volleyball court and enjoyed a friendly, albeit competitive, game of volleyball.

Annual Banquet
Once the scientific sessions have ended, it is time to honor recipients of awards conferred during the meeting, celebrate the exchange of scientific ideas, and enjoy both new and old friendships formed at the annual meeting.  The evening concludes as the Society’s President passes on the gavel to new leadership and everyone dances the night away.
Each Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention attendee receives a ticket to the banquet with their meeting registration. The tickets are nontransferable. Additional tickets can be purchased at the registration desk. Badges and banquet tickets are required to attend the banquet.

As you can see, the 2014 program represents the great strengths of our multidisciplinary society and presents something for everyone. We invite you to experience the excitement in Bellevue!



Rev. Friday, September 27, 2019; at 12:15:44 PM EDT
The Society thanks our generous corporate Sponsors.
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