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, birth defects still remain a major public health concern and are the leading cause of infant mortality in the US. Initially, birth defects were considered structural abnormalities. We now understand that birth defects include all aspects of functional defects/deficiencies as well. Furthermore, we recognize a wider 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 of clinicians, scientists and science policy regulators from governmental, academic, and industrial sectors, is uniquely suited to address these challenges. In 2014, the Society will hold its 54th Annual Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue in Bellevue, Washington. The theme for the meeting is Pushing the Boundaries of Birth Defects Research. Symposia topics range from molecular mechanisms and environmentally-related effects to clinical methods, including epigenetics, early (in utero) diagnosis of birth defects, National Children's Study update, testicular dysgenesis syndrome, a "meet the project officers" grant workshop, and thrombosis during pregnancy. The Society understands the importance of encouraging and mentoring students and new/early stage investigators (trainees). Education and training are key elements of the Society's strategic goals so events and sessions are included that encourage trainee participation. There is a platform session comprised of talks competitively selected from trainee-submitted abstracts and judged by past Presidents of the Society. The two top presenters receive an award. The remaining trainee abstracts are included in oral and poster sessions throughout the meeting. Awards are presented for best poster for graduate students and postdocs. A special two-part workshop will be held on Career Development in Birth Defects Research;which was developed for students/trainees and will include talks on effective writing, publishing a paper, and mentor/mentee relationships. In addition, there is a career night event that is designed to promote networking between trainees and scientists. 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 to request funds for Travel Awards to students and new/early stage investigators to attend the 2014 Annual Meeting and partially support travel expenses for key nonmember 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 nonmember speakers important in bringing new ideas/technologies to Society members and trainees.
The Teratology Society, a professional organization dedicated to birth defects research resulting in 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 other developmentally-mediated disorders. 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 early stage investigator travel awards and for key invited nonmember speaker travel.