As I write this, my first President’s communication to our general membership, I feel a clear sense of excitement and enthusiasm about the future of the Teratology Society. Whether it be the Strategic Planning session held in April, our annual meeting in late June, or the bustle of activity among Council and our committees this summer, all indicators point to a society headed in the right direction.
Let’s first focus on our annual meeting which was held during the last week of June at the Marriott Baltimore Waterfront Hotel. Despite tough economic conditions which pressured travel budgets for many of us, the number of total registrations (358) actually exceeded that of recent years. We also enjoyed a record number of students and postdoctoral fellows in attendance. The meeting showcased our multidisciplinary nature and our meeting theme, Global Perspectives in Teratology, highlighted the many ways in which our science has impact across the globe.
Additionally, we introduced several new programs to enhance the meeting, including a joint Roundtable with the Society of Maternal Fetal Medicine, a Grant Funding Workshop, a day-long Pharmaceutical Workshop series, and a National Children’s Study workshop which, incidentally, was webcast live. Furthermore, we increased the number of concurrent sessions in order to provide more choices and value for attendees. Based on survey responses, these new sessions were extremely popular, and an overwhelming percentage (83%) of respondents indicated that the number of concurrent sessions was “just right”. Student programs continued to be a critical element of our meeting, and while respondents were highly supportive of the programs we offered, they would like even more! As blogging neophytes, we were especially delighted to see that 92% of respondents signaled support for continuation of the blog messages which went out each evening to herald our next day’s sessions. Many thanks to our 2012 Program Committee, the session chairs, our liaisons to NBTS and OTIS, and the amazing team at AIM for their hard work which made the meeting a success!
Our new 5-year Strategic Plan is also driving exciting new developments for the Society. Drafted in April by a team of 24 enthusiastic TS members and rolled out at the annual meeting, the Plan revolves around the central mantra of “Pushing the Boundaries” (see figure) and is comprised of three major “strategic intents”:
1) Broaden our scientific identity,
2) Expand our reach, and
3) Grow our membership.
To help get the plan off the ground as rapidly as possible, we formed a Strategic Plan “Launch Team” comprised of Chris Lau (Chair), Chris Curren, Mike Schellpfeffer and Chris Stodgell, with Melissa Tassinari, Barbara Hales and Tonia Masson providing invaluable guidance based on experience with past strategic plans. The Launch Team and Council already have been working with our Society’s committees to identify their roles in implementing the plan, and I am thrilled to report that several committees have already identified new and creative goals specifically related to the Strategic Plan. As an early step in the plan’s implementation, Council has updated the Society’s mission and vision to reflect who we have become and where we are headed:
The Teratology Society is the premier source for cutting-edge research and authoritative information related to birth defects and other disorders of developmental origin.
Our Mission is to prevent birth defects and disorders of developmental origin by:
promoting research and exchange of ideas, communicating information to health professionals
and other interested parties, and providing education and training.
Moving forward, my top priority will be implementing the Strategic Plan, and you will be hearing much more on our progress as the year unfolds. I believe the Plan is sound and will get us where we need to be for long-term success as a scientific society. There is much work to be done, but we have many hands to share the load. Stay tuned for further updates, and don’t hesitate to let us know your thoughts and suggestions along the way.