The Teratology Society was founded in 1960 to foster the exchange of information relating to the causes and prevention of congenital (birth) defects. While much progress in understanding and preventing birth defects has been made over the past 50 years, birth defects still remain a major public health concern in the world today and are the leading cause of infant mortality in the U.S. Furthermore, public concerns have expanded more broadly to include a wide range of developmentally-mediated disorders which can be affected by a multitude of factors which include not only drugs and chemicals, but also diet, genetics and socioeconomic factors. The Society's diverse membership, which includes clinicians, scientists and science policy regulators from governmental, academic, and industrial sectors, is uniquely suited to address these challenges. In 2012, the Society will hold its 52nd Annual Meeting at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore, MD. The topics for this meeting include maternal/fetal health in developing countries, effects of nuclear disasters on development, impact of Vitamin D deficiency on development, international regulatory controversies concerning maternal and fetal health, and novel computational approaches for assessing developmental safety. The Society understands the importance of encouraging and mentoring students and new and early stage investigators (trainees). Education and training are key elements of the Society's strategic goals and events and sessions are included in the meeting that encourage trainee participation. There is a platform session comprised of talks competitively selected from trainee-submitted abstracts. The presentations are judged by senior Society members and the two top presenters receive an award. The remaining trainee abstracts are included in sessions throughout the meeting. Those selected to present posters have signage at their poster board to indicate their trainee status and compete for best poster awards, encouraging interaction among the presenters and the established scientist. In addition, there is a career night event that is designed to promote networking between trainees and scientists in a relaxed forum that promotes open discussions related to future plans and career opportunities. The trainees are also encouraged to serve as ad hoc members on the majority of the Society's committees, thereby deepening their involvement within the Society.
The specific aims of this application are: 1) to request funds for Travel Awards to students and new and early stage investigators to attend the 2012 Annual Meeting and 2) to partially support travel expenses for key non-member speakers. The Society believes that its trainees are the future of both the Society and the scientific endeavors fostered by its community of scientists. Travel awards help offset the financial burden that might otherwise prevent trainees from attending. The application also requests funds to partially defray travel costs for invited non-member speakers.
The Teratology Society, the professional organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of birth defects, brings together academic, industrial, and governmental health scientists who investigate the causes and biological processes leading to birth defects and developmental disabilities. Committed to the support, encouragement, and training of students and new and early stage investigators, the Society understands the importance of involving them in its Annual Meeting to maintain a continuous supply of trainees in this important area of public health. Both the scientific objectives and the training and outreach goals of the annual meetings require external support for student and postdoctoral fellow travel awards and for invited speaker travel.