History of The Teratology Society

The history of The Teratology Society is an Interesting one. An in-depth view of its foundation is wonderfully summarized by John M. Rogers et al., recently published in Birth Defects Research (Part A), May 2010. 

As a student myself, I believe it is exceptionally important to recognize why you belong as a member of this society and thus provide the appropriate elements in the context of these meetings.

The impetus for establishing The Teratology Society was because birth defects (errors in prenatal human development) are the leading cause of mortality and are a major cause of disabilities in children.

The Teratology Society was founded in 1959 by three very reputable scientists;  Drs. Josef Warkany, James G. Wilson, and F. Clarke Fraser. Interestingly, the conception of the society occurred during a walk on the beach in Florida. The discussion followed a number of birth defects meetings (i.e. courtship) which were sponsored by the NIH, the National Institute of Health (March of Dimes), the Association for Aid to Crippled Children, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. There wasn't a meeting until 1961, which took place in Cincinnati, Ohio; the meetings' birthplace. Each of the founders operated as the President of the society for the first three years, in order as I introduced them. Every year thereafter, the role of President rotated between experts in many scientific disciplines, from molecular genetics to epidemiology and dysmorphogenesis in the study of teratology. 

The President is fundamental to the society and their role includes running the society, answering queries, holding committee meetings, approving council, planning the years' symposia, and organizing the society's annual general meeting... Pretty substantial!

During the past 50 years, the society has developed the scientific basis to prevent birth defects caused by rubella, alcoholism, and folate deficiency, as well as other prenatal exposures. By working together as an united front of dedicated investigators and students, we can further shape the Teratology Society in the 21st century.


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