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TERATOLOGY SOCIETY COUNCIL II MEETING
Keystone Resort
Keystone, Colorado
June 27, 1996

The meeting was called to order at 1:00 PM MDT. In attendance were Jose Cordero, Kathy Sulik, Tony Scialli, Elaine Francis, Barbara Hales, Bob Kavlock, Bill Slikker, Jan Friedman, Carol Lemire (ex officio) and George Daston. Dr. Cordero presided.


Strategic Planning Committee: Dr. Cordero reported that he had spoken by phone with Vince Coughlan of March of Dimes (MOD), who was willing to serve as a facilitator for our strategic planning effort. Mr. Coughlan will ask Ms. House of MOD to cover his expenses. Dr. Cordero and Dr. Mirkes will determine when the strategic planning meeting will take place.

It was reported that Dr. Mirkes had decided that initially the strategic planning group would have only a few members, whose task would be to more clearly define the goals of the committee. The size of the committee would increase as the strategic plan develops. The initial working group will be Drs. Mirkes, Kavlock and Daston. Dr. Francis stressed that it was important to include participants who are not on Council.


Legislative and Funding Issues: Dr. Cordero had been informed by Allan Lock that the House Appropriations Committee had approved a $600 million increase for the NIH budget. Jim Hanson related in a phone conversation with Dr., Cordero that he believed that half of this increase would be used to rehabilitate the NIH clinical program, and the rest would be divided among all of the institutes, leaving only about $6 million for NICHD. It was Dr. Hanson's opinion that this would be insufficient to make a real impact. Dr. Hanson indicated that there was movement to request that Duane Alexander, head of NICHD, develop a multi-institute initiative on birth defects. Dr. Hanson is interested in holding a conference at NIH to establish a research agenda on birth defects. The conference would include external groups, and there may be an invitation extended to the Teratology Society. Dr. Hanson believed that we should wait for Dr. Alexander to endorse these ideas before we attempt to influence legislation.

Dr. Cordero informed the group that the new Legislative Affairs Committee would consist of Elaine Francis, Gary Kimmel, Jim Hanson and John DeSesso. Dr. Francis moved that the Society send a letter to all members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees supporting the NIH budget increase, and requesting that some should be earmarked for training and research on birth defects prevention. The motion passed. Dr. Daston was asked to draft the letter.


Committee Assignments: Dr. Cordero indicated that he desired to optimize diversity of backgrounds in appointees to the committees. He also indicated that half of the committee assignments would come from the list of volunteers gathered by the Societal Participation Committee. The Council liaisons will be the same as last year, with Dr. Kavlock picking up the ad hoc Terminology Committee, and Dr. Hales taking over Dr. Rodier's responsibilities.

There was some discussion of the composition of the search committee for Editor-in-Chief of Teratology. As all three members of the Publications Committee are from basic research labs in academia, Dr. Cordero was interested in having other backgrounds represented. It was agreed that Bern Schwetz would be asked to serve on the search committee.


Contracts for the Office Staff: Ms. Lemire was excused from the meeting. Dr. Francis reminded Council that we had been informed three years ago by our accountant that it would be in everyone's best interest to have contracts with our staff. Ms. Lemire and Ms. Kagan had presented drafts of contracts at the October 1995 Council meeting, and that these had been discussed in detail during a March 1996 conference call. Dr. Francis had subsequently talked with the accountant about the most appropriate form for the contracts. The accountant expressed the opinion that the contract be a simple one page document with an attachment of job responsibilities. Dr. Francis has learned that comparable draft contracts had been presented to the American College of Toxicology, which has not acted on them.

There was considerable discussion about the contracts and about the skills mix that might best suit the Society, such as professional meeting planning, legislative tracking and influence, etc. Dr. Scialli moved that within one month Dr. Daston solicit proposals for the administration of the Society from several management groups, that these be reviewed and voted on by Council and that action on the draft contracts with the office staff be deferred until then. The motion was approved.


Update on Keystone: Council was informed that information about a possible meeting here in 1999 would not be available until the following week. It was reiterated that the membership would be informed via the newsletter about the details of our contract negotiations with Keystone as soon as they have been concluded.

Ms. Lemire rejoined the meeting at this point. She was invited to give her perspective on the negotiations with Keystone. She stated her opinion that the negotiations for the 1996 meeting had been difficult, with little give and take. She believes that Keystone shares the responsibility for the inaccurate room night estimate, but that they are being reasonable in negotiating a resolution. She warned Council that we may still have a problem if the proposal for the 1999 meeting includes the same mix of room selections, which are heavily weighted towards condomimium units.


Site Selection Committee: Dr. Sulik recommended that this committee consist of Tony Scialli as Chair, John DeSesso, Barbara Hales, Carol Lemire (ex officio) and herself. This recommendation was accepted. The committee was charged with selecting sites for 1999 and 2000. Next year the committee will be charged with selecting sites for 2001 and 2002; subsequent site selection will be a done a year at a time. Dr. Cordero also asked the committee to develop a protocol for site selection. It was decided that only the Executive Secretary and the Vice President-Elect or his designee would travel to inspect prospective meeting sites.


Treasurer's Report: Dr. Francis expressed the need for the Treasurer to be involved in the financial aspects of the meeting planning process. Dr. Cordero and Ms. Lemire agreed to provide copies of all financial transactions and to involve her more closely.

Dr. Francis reported that the Society's contract with its auditing firm is ending, and recommended that we renew it. This was moved and approved.


Development Committee: Dr. Cordero reported that this ad hoc committee has been formed to replace the ad hoc Finance Advisory Committee, which has been dissolved. It will be chaired by Ron Jensh, who will have the title of Development Officer. Dr. Cordero acknowledged the fine efforts of Rich Miller who had led the Finance Advisory Committee, and noted Dr. Miller's continuing service in other committees. The roster of the Development Committee will otherwise be the same as the Finance Advisory Committee, with the addition of Bob Staples. Dr. Cordero noted that a report had been received from the Finance Advisory Committee, and that follow-up would be through the Development Committee.


New Business: A letter from Lew Holmes proposing 1) that the Warkany Lecture be used as a national award, and 2) that the lecturer be selected by a committee, was presented to Council. After discussion it was decided to leave the Warkany Lecture as it is, but to establish a separate award for international recognition of major research contributions to the field of teratology. The awardee would be selected by committee. The Development Committee will be charged with securing funds to support the award.

Council discussed a letter from Carole Kimmel suggesting that we join the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, for the purpose of adding our voice on issues of common interest. After discussion it was decided that Council should look into membership in FASEB as a way to accomplish the same purpose. Dr. Daston will obtain information about FASEB membership, and report back to Council.

It was reported that the Organization of Teratogen Information Services will meet jointly with the Teratology Society in 1997. Rich Miller will organize the OTIS program. Phil Mirkes will work with Dr. Miller to incorporate the OTIS program into ours. Dr. Miller has requested that OTIS members have the option of paying a special registration fee for partial attendance of our meeting, and that 10 of the lower cost hotel rooms at the Breakers be set aside for OTIS participants. It was moved and approved that we make these accomodations for OTIS.

Dr. Hales suggest that we may be able to increase membership in the Society through financial incentives. For example, we could apply the $100 difference between member and non-member rates in meeting registration to the membership fee if an application for membership is received within 3 months of the annual meeting. Dr. Daston agreed to refer this suggestion to the Membership Committee for consideration.

Dr. Cordero initiated a discussion on how the Society might communicate with Congress. He stressed that this should be a topic for the strategic planning committee. It was also suggested that a Communications Committee be formed. John Harris, a possible chair for such a commitee, has been asked to prepare a short summary about what the Teratology Society does and why we deserve support, for use in outreach. Dr. Sulik suggested that Dr. Mirkes' Grant Funding Committee report be used as a starting point for this process. Dr. Friedman reminded Council that the concept of a Communications Committee was a recommendation of the Public Affairs Commitee, which would like to make suggestions about potential members.

Dr. Hales reported that the Societal Participation Committee had recommended that platform sessions be chaired by young people. Dr. Slikker, liaison to that committee will ask Dr. McCandless for the previous survey and recommend a second survey to determine why submissions to the journal have decreased, feedback on the meeting, reasons for attending or not attending the meeting, and funding status.

Dr. Slikker raised the concern that there be more communication between Council and the membership at-large. It was agreed that the newsletter was the best venue. Dr. Hales stated the e-mail may be a more versatile and cost-effective means of communicating, and volunteered to look into improving e-mail communication within the Society.

The meeting was adjourned at 4:40 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

George P. Daston,

Secretary, Teratology Society

 

 

 

 

 

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