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Keystone Resort
Keystone, Colorado
June 22-23, 1996

The meeting was called to order at 1:35 PM MDT. In attendance were Kathy Sulik, Jose Cordero, Phil Mirkes, Elaine Francis, Patty Rodier, Bob Kavlock, Bill Slikker, Jan Friedman, Carol Lemire (ex officio) and George Daston. Dr. Sulik presided.

President's Report: Dr. Sulik reported that the meeting was comparable in size to those of years past.

She stated that considerable effort had gone into strategic planning for the Society, and that the ad hoc Grant Funding Committee had been an important start towards long-range planning and outreach.

Dr. Sulik noted that we will need to consider raising membership dues for next year to cover increases in mailing costs for the journal. Other items that we will need to take up over the next year are the establishment of a search for journal editor, and the establishment of a home page on the Worldwide Web. These were discussed later in the meeting.

Vice President's Report: Dr. Cordero reported on the meeting program. Two of the symposia received outside support, two did not. Dr. Allan Lock has expressed an interest in procuring NIH sponsorship for a symposium in 1997. The Organization of Teratogen Information Services (OTIS) is interested in holding its meetings concurrently with the Teratology Society, and expressed the opinion that this would be a good addition to our meeting.

Dr. Sulik concurred but remarked that affiliated groups generally rely on our administrative support. We should attempt to procure long-term commitments from these groups to facilitate our planning. Dr. Friedman replied that long-term commitments would probably come at the expense of allowing these groups more input into our meeting program, which can have positive and negative aspects. Dr. Cordero explained that OTIS values its independence. Dr. Rodier reminded Council that it was important for us as the premiere society in teratology to maintain ties with all affiliated groups.

Dr. Cordero reported that he had received a letter from the Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine requesting our support for their position that more funding is needed for birth defects research. Dr. Francis cautioned that this is an advocacy group with political activities. The consensus of Council was that it did not wish to affiliate the Society with this group. Dr. Cordero will draft a response explaining the activities of the Teratology Society and conveying Council's decision.

Vice President-Elect's Report: Dr. Mirkes reported that the Princess Hotel in San Diego had been selected as the site of the 1998 annual meeting, but deferred the rest of his report until after we had discussed meeting contracts.

Tony Scialli joined the meeting at this point. It was announced that Dr. Scialli had been elected Vice President-Elect for 1996-7, and that Barbara Hales had been elected Councilor.

Treasurer's Report: The written Treasurer's Report is attached. Dr. Francis stated that the Society's income for 1995 was over $300,000, while expenses were about $280,000. Income for the Education Fund increased, while income for the Warkany Fund decreased. The revenue for this year compensates fully for the deficit that the Society ran in 1994.

Dr. Francis also reported that membership dues for the current year are down from what they were projected to be. There was difficulty in determining the actual number of members from data on hand. Dr. Friedman stressed that it must be determined whether the number of members really has declined significantly or if the discrepancy is attributable to an error in budgeting. Dr. Cordero asked that the Membership Committee be charged with charting the number of members over the years. Ms. Lemire agreed to provide an accurate count of the number of members for the 1995 and 1996 budget years to the Secretary in the next 2-3 weeks. Drs. Rodier and Friedman suggested that we check with lapsed members to determine why they have not kept their membership. Dr. Daston suggested that each Council member select the names of several lapsed members to contact to urge them to renew. A list was circulated for this purpose.

Dr. Francis expressed concern that the meeting registration fee may not fully cover the costs of the meal functions, and urged that the fee be recalculated every year and be based on actual cost rather than as a carryover from previous years. Dr. Sulik indicated that several meal functions had been cancelled to save money.

The auditor for the Society has requested that we allocate more money to the operating fund, which has been running a deficit for several years. The deficit appears to be attributable to the fact that staff time that is spent on annual meeting planning is being charged to the operating fund. The problem will be resolved by more precisely accounting for the time that staff spends on annual meeting planning vs. other administrative tasks. This will also provide us with a more accurate accounting of annual meeting revenue. It was moved and approved that the auditor's report for 1995 be accepted.

Discussion of Room Slippage: Ms. Lemire was excused for this discussion that occurred immediately prior to Council's meeting with Anne Lynch, Director of Sales at Keystone Resort. Dr. Sulik recapped the information that she had passed along to Council during our conference call of June 19, 1996 (see minutes of that call). She added that the resort had agreed to reduce the number of room nights by 100 in September 1995 as a result of conversations that she and Ms. Lemire had with Keystone representatives on the occasion of their site visit. Dr. Sulik also reported that she had spoken to the Society's attorney, Lynn Fleischer, who has urged us to send contracts to her in the future prior to signing them.

Ms. Lynch and Ms. Lemire joined the meeting at this point. Ms. Lynch reported that the number of room nights credited to the Society was now projected to be 1,984, producing a revenue of $249,555. A total of $393,002 worth of rooms was held from the market for our meeting attendees, but we are contractually responsible for only $334,051: the deficit is approximately $84,000. Keystone agreed to honor the verbal commitment made in September 1995 to reduce by 100 our number of room nights, which would relieve an additional $15,000, but this still would leave the Society with a penalty of $69,096.70. Ms. Lynch indicated that she had checked all of the names on the meeting registration forms provided by Ms. Lemire to ensure that the all of the Society's registrants were accounted for in the room count.

Ms. Lynch suggested several options for reducing the Society's debt. These included 1) deleting a meal or beverage function from the meeting; 2) changing a menu to something less expensive; or 3) agreeing to return to Keystone in 1996 during a period of time specified by Keystone. The first two suggestions would not save very much. Ms. Lynch indicated that the third option had considerable marketing value for Keystone, on the order of $30-40,000.

Dr. Sulik suggested that Ms. Lynch contact the headquarters of Ralcorp, Keystone's parent corporation, about forgiving our debt. Ms. Lynch replied that it was already her intention to do this. Council agreed that Dr. Daston would draft a letter describing the functions of the Teratology Society, as well as providing a list of institutions represented that use Purina animal products, to be appended to Ms. Lynch's letter. Ms. Lynch left the meeting at this point.

Council decided that there was little to be gained by changing the meal functions. It was stressed that the membership of the Society be kept informed of the situation.

Executive Secretary's Report: Ms. Lemire's written report is attached. Dr. Mirkes suggested to Ms. Lemire that databases be set up to account for membership on a year-by-year basis. This is an action item for Ms. Lemire and Ms. Kagan.

Site Selection and Contract Negotiation: Dr. Mirkes shared copies of the draft contract for the 1998 annual meeting. He indicated his intention to have this contract reviewed by our attorney immediately. It was also agreed that she would review the contract for the 1997 meeting.

Dr. Sulik stated that there was a need to establish a Site Selection Committee that could take advantage of the collective wisdom of the past-presidents and could include a professional meeting planner as a consultant. It was her opinion that this would be of great benefit to the Vice President-Elect, and would improve the planning process.

The meeting was recessed at 6:00 PM and reconvened on June 23 at 8:30 AM. The first items of business were to review the activities of various committees with their respective chairs, who joined the meeting sequentially. Ms. Lemire was absent from this portion of the meeting.

Finance Advisory Committee: Rich Miller reported that this committee still had a number of questions as to its mission of fund raising, and suggested that Council consider appointing a designated director of fundraising. Council thanked Dr. Miller for his suggestion.

Constitution and By-Laws: Bryan Hardin reported that the committee had received a letter from Ed Lammer questioning the appropriateness of a vote on the Code of Ethics as a ballot issue, as it is not a part of the Society's Constitution. The committee met to discuss this and concluded that the ballot was appropriate because the Code of Ethics is referenced in the Constitution.

Student Affairs: John Rogers reported that there had been a decrease in the number of students who applied for travel awards, but he believed that this did not indicate a trend. Dr. Rogers reported that he had been informed by Bill Scott that the Wilson Fund was growing nicely. Dr. Scott had consulted with Mrs. Harriet Wilson, who thought thatsome of the fund should be used to increase the student travel awards by $100. Dr. Scott and Mrs. Wilson also suggested that the Society consider additional avenues to use money from the Fund. Two ideas that immediately occurred to Council were to support a student scholarship, or to underwrite an annual award to be given to an established investigator for exemplary contributions to the field.

Dr. Rogers voiced the concern that the job of the Student Affairs Committee was made difficult by the fact that judging for the student awards competition must take place through out the entire course of the meeting. Often at least some of the committee members are not able to stay through the entire meeting. Dr. Rogers had a number of recommendations to address this problem. First, it should be made clear to prospective new members of the Student Affairs Committee that attendance through the final day of the meeting was an expectation. Second, it would be of great help if the Program Committee could schedule the student presentations early in the meeting. Third, students interested in competing for the awards could be asked to prepare a more detailed summary of their presentation or poster, to be sent to the Student Affairs Committee prior to the meeting in order to allow the committee to triage the submissions.

It was the consensus of Council that the third opition be tried for a year if the logistics could be worked out. It was moved and approved that the Student Affairs Committee be charged with the task of developing a plan for this process, to be reviewed by Council at its Fall meeting.

Lastly, Dr. Sulik informed Dr. Rogers that the students of the Society greatly appreciated his efforts and those of the Committee on their behalf.

Nominations and Elections: Frank Welsch reported that for the first time the ballot for Vice President-Elect included a vision statement prepared by each candidate. He asked for Council's approval to make this an ongoing policy. Approval was granted by consensus.

The winners of the election were Tony Scialli for Vice President-Elect and Barbara Hales for Councilor.

Council asked that the Nominations and Elections Committee begin to keep a record of the names of nominees, to be used in future considerations by the committee. Council also asked that the Committee make an effort to consider nominating candidates from all subdisciplines represented in the Society. The spirit of this request was to ensure that no group within the Society feels disenfranchised, but should not be regarded by the Committee as a rigid requirement.

Midwest Teratology Association: Judy Henck, liaison to MTA, met with Council to seek input on ways to strengthen interactions between the Teratology Society and the three regional societies. Council expressed its appreciation for the financial and intellectual support to our annual meeting that is provided by the regional groups. Council also suggested several ways in which the regional societies could play a larger role in the Teratology Society. These included 1) advancing proposals to the Program Committee to repeat successful regional meeting programs at the annual meeting of the Society; 2) nominating representatives from the regional groups for committee assignments in the Society; and 3) posting regional meeting programs in the Society's web page, after it has been set up. Dr. Henck indicated that the regional chapters were planning a luncheon on Wednesday, June 26, during which she would pass along these suggestions. Dr. Cordero expressed his interest in attending the luncheon and serving as a liaison to the regional groups.

Grant Funding: Dr. Mirkes summarized the work of this ad hoc committee, which had started as an effort to identify ways to increase funding for birth defects research. During the course of this effort it became clear to Dr. Mirkes and the committee that this issue was so integrated with other factors relating to the long-term health of our field and our Society that it would be impossible to address grant funding without also addressing these other issues. These include decreases in submissions to Teratology and in Society membership.

Dr. Mirkes proposed abolishing the Grant Funding Committee, and establishing another committee that would develop a long-range strategic plan for the Society. Dr. Sulik reminded Council that this had also been the goal of the earlier Blueprint 2000 Committee, but that there had been no mechanism for follow-up on that Committee's recommendations. Dr. Kavlock stressed the need for status and trend data on items such as publications, funding and membership.

Council approved the concept of seating an ad hoc Strategic Planning Committee. After much discussion, it was decided that the best course of action was to first form a very small committee that would establish goals. Dr. Mirkes was charged with forming this group, and with reporting back to Council on the composition and charge of the committee. Dr. Slikker urged Dr. Mirkes to get input from other committees such as the Publications Committee in identifying the issues that need to be addressed. Dr. Cordero asked that this small committee develop a plan of action for review at the Fall Council meeting.

Dr. Mirkes expressed the need to obtain a facilitator to help with the early phases of the Committee's work. Dr. Cordero indicated that he knew of a professional facilitator at March of Dimes whom he would contact to inquire his level of interest in serving the Strategic Planning Committee on a pro bono basis.

Societal Participation: Bill Slikker, as Council liaison to this committee, reported that the group is developing a survey to gather information on the career choices and whereabouts of former student members of the Society. Council endorsed this activity. Council also asked Dr. Slikker to remind Dr. McCandless to send Council a hard copy of the results of the original survey he had sent out regarding societal participation.

Wolrdwide Web Page: Carol Lemire and Eve Kagan joined the meeting at this point. Ms. Kagan has been overseeing efforts to develop a Teratology Society page on the Web. She has been assisted by Dave Wise and Bill Landau. Dr. Sulik stated that she has also asked Sid Hunter and Rich Miller to help in this effort.

Ms. Kagan shared with Council a proposal from Mr. Landau to develop a web page. This would include meeting announcements, calls for abstracts, and other information that is now issued in Society mailings. Costs for establishing and maintaining the page were included, and would be extra if the atlas of fetal abnormalities that has been developed by Dr. Wise and his committee are added. It was suggested that it may be possible to defray this extra cost if we could attract sponsors for the atlas. It was agreed that Dr. Wise would be asked to seek such support. Ms. Kagan reported that the cost of the web page without the atlas would be approximately $700 per year, assuming that it were to be accessed an average of ten times per month.

There was considerable discussion as to whether 10 accesses per month was a realistic estimate, and on the contents of the page. It was decided that an ad hoc committee be formed to study the issue and make recommendations. Dr. Sulik indicated that the committee would be made up of Rich Miller (chair), Sid Hunter, Dave Wise, Jan Friedman and Eve Kagan (ex officio). It was charged wih making recommendations on what should be included on the page and how it could be made to pay for itself. Council moved and approved a limit of $1000 to be spent on the development of the webpage.

Newsletter: Carole Kimmel indicated that the newsletter had been included in the prototype web page being developed by Ms. Kagan. Dr. Kimmel expressed the need to include more committee reports, business meeting minutes and annual financial statement in the newsletter. Dr. Kimmel stated her intention to resign as newsletter editor. Council thanked Dr. Kimmel for her 5 and one-half years of service. Dr. Daston was appointed as the new newsletter editor.

IFTS: Dr. Kimmel reported that this group has been working in earnest to harmonize terminology. MARTA, a French group and a group from Germany headed by Dr. Chahoud have all submitted information to be used in the process. The terminology group is scheduled to meet in Keystone and at the European Teratology Society meeting in Rome in September 1996 to review the data, mold it into a common format, and decide on how its publication will be funded. It is the desire of the group to have the atlas available on the Worldwide Web. The atlas is now restricted to lab animals, but there is the desire to eventually include human fetal malformations. Dr. Kimmel emphasizes the amount of work that Dr. Wise's group in the U.S. has put into the development of the atlas.

Dr. Kimmel reported that the IFTS has decided to use its dues to establish a student fellowship to support work for a summer in a lab anywhere in the world. A sum of $5000 has been set aside, and the procedure for administering the fellowship will be put in place by 1997. The idea was floated and rejected by Council that some of the Wilson Fund be used to support this fellowship.

Dr. Kimmel reminded Council that her term on the IFTS Council ends in 1996, and that a replacement must be appointed. She suggested that it would be beneficial for that replacement to have had some interactions with the World Health Organization.

Publications: Dick Skalko raised the concern of the Publications Committee that the ad hoc Grant Funding Committee had too much overlap with the purview of the Publications Committee, especially regarding the future of the journal. Dr. Skalko indicated that the journal's future had already been an active topic within his committee, and reported on the Committee's deliberations.

The idea of changing the name of the journal had been discussed. The publisher was not enthusiastic about this, because of the potential for readership to decline. The Committee endorsed the idea of scrapping our current system of Section Editors in favor of an Editorial Board appointed by the Editor-in-Chief to three year terms. The Committee has stressed to the journal's publisher that more color plates need to be offered, turnaround of manuscripts needs to be faster, and that there is a need to advertise the journal to scientists working in areas that are no longer submitting manuscripts to Teratology. Dr. Skalko reported that the publisher is planning a webpage for all of its journals, with abstracts. Lastly, he reported that the Committee had tabled the suggestion of instituting an annual award for the best paper in the journal.

Editor-in-Chief: Tom Sadler reported that the time taken to review manuscripts has decreased, but that there is still a 5 month lag at the publishers between receipt of accepted manuscripts and publication. Wiley-Liss has promised to decrease this to 3 months. Dr. Sadler also reported that Wiley-Liss has been urged to send out two issues immediately to catch up with the calendar.

Dr. Sadler reported a significant decrease in manuscript submissions. Only 45 have been submitted so far this year. CDC has indicated its interest in publishing its annual surveillance report in Teratology, which will fill an issue. The impact factor of the journal has also declined. Developmental Genetics, Roux's Archives of Development and Anatomy and Embryology have all moved ahead of Teratology on the impact scale.

Wiley-Liss has doubled the number of color plates to 16 for this year. Dr. Sadler feels that this is adequate to support current requests for color. Wiley is also working on an advertising campaign that will target epidemiologists, alcohol researchers and molecular biologists. Dr. Sadler also reported that Wiley-Liss is willing to pay $500 for solicited reviews or Teratogen Updates.

Dr. Sadler recommended that Council consider increasing dues to ensure that funds are available to offer free color plates on an ad libitum basis. He also suggested that the journal could offer rapid publication on an as needed basis.

Education: Tom Knudsen reported that there were 126 attendees at this year's course. People stayed to the end, and comments were positive. Extra notebooks are available at a cost of $25 each. The registration fees were the same as last year, except tuition for students was decreased from $75 to $25. There were no differences in student enrollment, however. Dr. Knudsen recommended that one of the new appointees to the Committee be someone who has had previous experience. He also reminded Council that Narsingh Agnish, who has been instrumental in producing the course notebooks since the inception of the Education Committee, will be retiring in 6 years, and that we will need to find another mechanism for producing the notebooks.

Dr. Knudsen indicated that there was a need to have a formal policy for acknowledging the use of copyrighted material in the course notebooks. The letter of inviation to the speakers will be amended to include language that the speakers are responsible for obtaining permission to use copyrighted material.

Editor-in-Chief Search: Dr. Sadler has stated his intention not to seek another term as Editor. Therefore, there is a need to form a committee, as outlined in the Constitution, to find a replacement. This will be formed in the next few months, so that interviews of candidates can take place during the 1997 annual meeting. Wiley-Liss has indicated its willingness to support two editorial offices during the period of transition from Dr. Sadler to the new editor.

Public Affairs: Dr. Friedman reported that a press release describing the Society's position on vitamin A was sent out on the occasion of the publication of the Rothman et al. paper in the New England Journal of Medicine. However, he did not know whether it had been used by any of the media. The Committee's letter to the editor of NEJM was not published.

Another major activity of the Committee was the organization of the therapeutic teratogens symposium for the annual meeting.

Subgroups of the Committee are in the process of drafting consensus statements on folic acid and vitamin A. Lew Holmes is chairing the folic acid effort, and has indicated that a draft will be completed at this annual meeting. Ed Lammer is chairing the re-evaluation of vitamin A, and estimates that a draft will be ready by January.

The Committee assisted in efforts to publicize the annual meeting. Dr. Sulik issued a press release from Univ. of North Carolina, and also sent a release to the Univ. of North Carolina Press, the Univ. of Colorado public relations office, the CDC press office (which sent it to the DeKalb County newspaper), and one will be sent to the Helena, Montana paper regarding Dr. Opitz' participation. Publicity activities will be continued next year, and will be coordinated with the Neurobehavioral Teratology Society.

Regarding the FDA labelling of drugs issue, Bern Schwetz has reported that the FDA is pursuing the Society's recommendations because the Agency believes it will improve the communication of information regarding risks in pregnancy. Dr. Schwetz requests a letter from the Teratology Society supporting his efforts to establish an advisory committee to draft guidelines on wording for the new labelling. Dr. Friedman will draft a letter for Dr. Cordero's signature.

The Public Affairs Symposium topic for 1997 will be Nutrition and Birth Defects other than NTDs, and will be organized by John Harris. A proposed position paper on hormone disrupters has been tabled until next year. Council urged the Committee to reconsider this as an activity for this year. Other suggestions, including one from Tom Shepard on the establishment of criteria to prove that an agent is teratogenic and one from Bob Brent to establish guidelines for expert testimony have been given a lower priority by the Committee.

The Public Affairs Committee believes that it should work on the issue of increasing our public visibility, and believes that the best way to achieve this is by employing an information specialist or lobbyist.

Legislative Affairs: It was announced that Gary Kimmel had resigned as chair of the committee. Dr. Francis stressed that the new chair of the committee needs to be able to access information about pending legislation, and that members of the committee should visit Congressional staff to inform them of our needs. Dr. Francis was asked to consider chairing the Legislative Affairs Committee.

This ends the committee reports.

Dues Increase: Dr. Sulik reported that the mailing costs for the journal have increased significantly for foreign subscriptions, to $60 per subscription. Wiley-Liss has informed us that they will start to charge the Society for these costs as of January 1997. The overall cost of this increase to the Society is approximately $12.50 per member. Council approved a resolution to request the support of the membership of a dues increase of $15, to be voted on at the annual business meeting.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:40 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

George P. Daston

Secretary, Teratology Society






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