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Bethesda, MD
October 3-4, 1996

The meeting was called to order at 1:00 PM EDT on 3 October. In attendance were Jose Cordero, Phil Mirkes, Tony Scialli, Kathy Sulik, Barbara Hales, Bob Kavlock, Bill Slikker, Jan Friedman, Carol Lemire (ex officio) and George Daston. Elaine Francis joined the meeting at 1:35 PM. Dr. Cordero presided.

Strategic Planning Process: Dr. Mirkes circulated a cover letter describing the strategic planning process that had been approved in concept at Council meetings at Keystone and which he had developed along with Drs. Kavlock and Daston. He indicated that he had become convinced that a facilitated retreat was the best method for developing a strategic plan. He had already contacted and solicited proposals from two groups that facilitate meetings. Cost estimates for a facilitator's time and travel range from $2000-$12,000. Both thought that a group size of twelve people with a passion for the Society would be best for the retreat.

Dr. Sulik expressed the opinion that it would be useful to include participants who are not members of the Society and who may have a different view of the direction of the science. She also advised that the European and Australian Teratology Societies be kept informed about the process, and that it might be possible to present our plan at the IFTS meeting in Australia in November 1997. Dr. Cordero reminded the group that the entire membership of the Society would need to be involved at some point in the planning process. Dr. Friedman suggested that this be part of the annual meeting.

Dr. Scialli moved that we approve a strategic planning retreat using an outside facilitator. The motion was seconded and passed. Dr. Daston moved that up to $15,000 be allocated to cover the costs of the retreat. The motion was seconded and passed, the only discussion being that attempts should be made to obtain outside funding.

FASEB Membership: Dr. Michael Jackson, Executive Director of FASEB joined the meeting at 2:30 at the request of Council so that we might explore the possibility of Sustaining Associate membership in FASEB. This is a newly established membership category for FASEB designed to encourage participation by smaller societies that do not have the membership base or financial resources to qualify for full membership. Dr. Jackson described in detail the policy analysis process that FASEB member societies engage in and the consensus reports that are produced. These reports are shared widely, including with Congress, and are influential in appropriations decisions. Dr. Jackson indicated that Associate members could participate fully in the policy process and invited the Teratology Society to send a representative to the next policy meeting. Dr. Jackson left the meeting at 3:30.

Management of the Teratology Society: Dr. Daston reported that he had solicited and received proposals from several management companies for the management of the Teratology Society. These included Argus, ACGIH, ADG, Drohan Management, and Smith-Buckland. Dr. Friedman moved that we find a management option preferable to our current situation, but at comparable cost. After discussion it was decided that we would continue to pursue the options presented by Drohan and ADG; we would explore the possibility of management services through FASEB; and we would ask Ms. Lemire and Ms. Kagan to present a proposal recommending improvements in our current management procedures. Dr. Daston volunteered to solicit a proposal from FASEB for managing the Society and to talk with Carol and Eve. Drs. Daston and Francis volunteered to vist ADG and Drohan in the next couple of months.

Dr. Daston also indicated that he would contact ACT officers to inform them of our actions.

A recess was called at this point and the meeting was reconvened at 8:30 AM, October 4.

Approval of Minutes: Minutes from the June 22-23 and June 27 Council meetings, the June 25 annual business meetings, and the August 5 and August 27 conference calls were presented for approval.

Ms. Lemire reported that the notation in the June 22-23 minutes about the affiliation of Bill Landau is incorrect: he is not with FASEB. Dr. Slikker asked that he be listed as present at the June 22-23 meeting and the August 5 conference call. The minutes were approved with these changes.

Ms. Lemire also reported that the cost of reprinting and mailing the issue of Teratology that was mistakenly sent to the ACT membership was $2,931.65, not the "approximately $3500" that was reported by Dr. Sulik at the annual business meeting. She also indicated that in addition to the $115-150 room rates at the Breakers about which Dr. Cordero had informed the membership at the business meeting, there were rooms available to students at the rate of $79. These figures will be added parenthetically to the business meeting minutes.

Dr. Kavlock asked that, in addition to minutes that the Secretary prepare a list of Action Items from each meeting. Dr. Daston agreed to prepare these starting with the current meeting.

Societal Participation Committee: Dr. Slikker serves as the liaison to this ad hoc committee. He reported that, per Council's request, he had contacted David McCandless about receiving a quantitative synopsis of the survey results that Dr. McCandless had reported anecdotally to Council. It was Council's intention to learn more about the nature and number of members' comments and criticisms so that it could take appropriate actions. Dr. McCandless sent a new report to Dr. Slikker, still without quantitative information, except that 5-7% of the respondents to the questionnaire had voiced dissatisfaction about aspects of the functioning of the Teratology Society.

Dr. Slikker believed that one problem with obtaining quantitative data from the survey may have been its design. He proposed that a new survey be developed that provides quantitative data to inform the strategic planning process and to track the career paths of student attendees of previous annual meetings. Dr. Cordero asked Dr. Slikker to lead this effort. Dr. Mirkes will work with Dr. Slikker to design the new questionnaire, and asked that Drs. Kavlock and Daston also be involved so that the survey could optimally support the development of the strategic plan. Dr. Slikker informed the group that Dr. McCandless had also volunteered to help. Dr. Cordero suggested that Joe Lary may also be interested in helping to design the survey. Dr. Francis requested that the mailing containing the new questionnaire include a statement about the objective of the survey, and an explanation of how the information from the previous summary was used. Dr. Kavlock suggested that the survey be published in the newsletter, along with an announcement of the strategic planning retreat and a solicitation for feedback in addition to the questionnaire.

A discussion ensued as to whether the development of a new survey to support the strategic planning process sufficiently overlapped the purpose of the ad hoc Societal Perticipation Committee as to obviate the need for the committee. The consensus was that it did. Dr. Daston moved that the Societal Participation Committee be sunsetted. The motion was seconded and passed. Dr. Cordero asked Dr. Daston to draft a letter for his signature thanking the committee for its work and indicating that the committee members would be asked to serve on other committees as opportunities arose.

Executive Secretary's Report: Ms. Lemire reported that the estimated revenue from the annual meeting and education course after expenses was $44, 582. Ms. Lemire reported that 38 regular, 1 associate and 1 student member of the Society were still delinquent in their 1996 dues. Ms. Lemire also reported that the number of members had been re-enumerated by Ms. Kagan, and that these figures were in her written report (attached).

Ms. Lemire reported that the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach had been contacted after the 1996 annual meeting to reduce the number of room-nights reserved by 15%, as allowed in our contract. However, we still may be unable to meet the adjusted room-night figure unless 1997 attendance is higher than 1996. Dr. Cordero asked that discussion of this point be postponed until his report.

Ms. Lemire related that FASEB has requested that the Teratology Society relocate its office within the FASEB Building to rooms on the fifth floor. This would provide much needed additional space, with only a slight increase in rent ($860/month vs the current $830.67/month); the Society would be responsible for half. There would also be a one-time cost to move the furnishings and files to the new office. Dr. Cordero asked Council to approve the move, pending inspection of the new space for adequacy of heating and cooling, electrical and computer lines. Council gave its unanimous approval.

Ms. Lemire stated that she and Dr. Francis had looked into the cost of directors liability insurance for the Teratology Society. The cost of annual premiums is in the range of $1300-1550, which would provide $1 million in coverage. Other groups with which members of Council are involved or are familiar have this insurance, including ACT. Council unanimously approved the purchase of the insurance, but asked that our attorney be contacted about the adequacy of the coverage.

Vice-President's Report: Dr. Mirkes distributed a handout with the tentative schedule for the 1997 annual meeting and with the roster for the Program Committee (attached). He reported that Pat Weir, chair of the Education Committee, would choose a topic for the course by mid-October, and information about the course would be submitted for publication in the next issue of the newsletter. Dr. Mirkes announced that NIEHS will sponsor a symposium with presenters being principal investigators for grants emanating from NIEHS's special RFA on molecular mechanisms of abnormal development.

Dr. Mirkes shared with Council a written proposal from John M. Rogers, immediate past-Chair of the Student Affairs Committee, for a process to showcase the students who are finalists for merit awards while facilitating the judging for those awards (attached). Dr. Scialli moved that the proposal be accepted. The motion was seconded and passed. The Student Affairs Committee will be asked to keep track of whether this new system, which requires more information to be submitted early, has an effect on the number of students applying for awards.

Dr. Mirkes related that Lew Holmes has asked him to consider inviting a Brazilian researcher to the annual meeting to speak about her work on misoprostol and birth defects. Dr. Cordero suggested that this might foster outreach from our Society to South America, and that he would like the Society to at least partially underwrite this individual's travel costs.

Dr. Hales indicated that the schedule for the annual meeting needed to include a discussion of the strategic planning meeting. She suggested that this be scheduled for the free afternoon. She also noted that we would need to set aside time for the student award candidates to present, and that we had lengthened the meeting by holding the NIEHS-sponsored symposium on Sunday.

Discussion ensued about obtaining outside funding for symposia that is free from conflict of interest. Dr. Sulik will provide Council with a copy of the Univ. of North Carolina guidelines that we can consider.

Vice President-Elect's Report: Dr. Scialli related that our attorney, Lynn Fleischer, had concluded that the proposed contract with Keystone Resort for the 1999 meeting looked favorable. The contract has still not been signed because Keystone is still preparing the final draft.

The meeting will be held over the 4th of July, and fewer complimentary rooms will be provided than this year. Keystone will provide us with 12,000 square feet of meeting space (vs. 16,000 in 1996). The room block that has been reserved is 8% smaller than the actual occupancy for 1996, and this can still be reduced by up to 15% up to the day prior to the start of the meeting. Room rates will not be increased more than 5%, or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is lower.

Dr. Scialli intends to write a newsletter article explaining what has been done to resolve this issue. Dr. Sulik indicated that she will contribute to Dr. Scialli's article, particularly to emphasize that even after the financial penalty the meeting was highly profitable and that Keystone is a good meeting venue.

President's Report: Dr. Cordero reminded Council that our contract with the Breakers Hotel reserved the same number of room-nights as for the 1996 Keystone meeting. He reported that Fred Edson of the Breakers has already been contacted about decreasing our reservation. We have decreased the reservation by 15%, the maximum allowed in the contract, but we are still likely to have a shortfall unless attendance unexpectedly increases. The Breakers has already sent a proposal for us to have our 2000 annual meeting there. Dr. Cordero recommended that we not act on this proposal until after the 1997 meeting.

In light of this information, Dr. Scialli moved that the ad hoc Site Selection Committee stop searching this year for a site for the 2000 meeting, and that next year the committee will be charged with finding a site for the 2000, 2001 and 2002 meetings. The motion was seconded and passed.

Dr. Kavlock stressed that the information about the room slippage at the Breakers need to be communicated immediately to the membership. This will be added to the newsletter article being prepared by Drs. Scialli and Sulik.

Dr. Friedman asked whether there was any sort of financial incentive, such as reduced registration fees, that could be offered as an inducement to get more attendees at the annual meeting. Drs. Cordero and Francis replied that the Society could not afford to offer deep discounts. Dr. Scialli suggested that the new survey ask people what it would take to get them to attend the meeting. Dr. Kavlock suggested that we consider the recommendation made in the proposal of one of the management firms that we lower our food costs so that they be no more than 25-30% of the registration fee. Drs. Cordero and Sulik replied that we must keep in mind the importance of the ambiance of the meeting. Dr. Hales suggested that meeting attendance could be increased by inviting members who have not submitted abstracts to chair sessions. Dr. Cordero indicated that he would send letters to members who have not attended meetings for the past few years inviting them back. He also will invite South and Central American researchers to the meeting.

Dr. Cordero reported that he will choose the Warkany Lecturer this year in consultation with Drs. Holmes and Sulik. He will also solicit nominations from the membership. Subsequently, an ad hoc committee will be formed to select the lecturer.

Treasurer's Report: Dr. Francis provided an update of budgeted vs. actual expenditures for 1996 and a proposed 1997 budget (attached). She stated that the apparent discrepancy on the 1996 accounting statement between membership dues and the number of active members is because some of the dues are recorded in December 1995 and have not been carried over to the 1996 statement.

Dr. Francis also indicated that the operating fund for the Society continually runs a deficit because much of the annual meeting preparation is charged to the general operating fund. Our auditors have expressed concern about this. Dr. Scialli moved that 25% of the operating fund expenses be shifted to the meeting fund expenses. The motion was seconded and passed. Dr. Daston suggested that the staff keep track of the actual hours and resources spent during the year on annual meeting preparation so that the meeting registration fees can be set to more accurately reflect the cost of the meeting.

Drs. Hales and Scialli suggested that the 1997 budget projection balance. Dr. Daston suggested that as a matter of principle budget projections should aim for a small surplus. The President should attempt to meet that goal by setting registration fees, course tuition, proposed dues adjustments, and decreasing expenses to meet the goal.

Dr. Francis indicated that the costs of the strategic planning process, moving expenses, Web page, and FASEB membership (should this be pursued) would need to be added to the 1997 projected budget.

FASEB Membership: Council considered the offer to join FASEB as a Sustaining Associate member. Dr. Kavlock moved that we defer this decision until after the 1997 annual meeting so that the membership can be asked for their opinions and approval. The motion was seconded and approved. Dr. Scialli asked that we still ask FASEB to invite us to observe one of their consensus conferences. He also suggested that we raise the idea in the newsletter, and ask Dr. Jackson to draft an article describing the advantages of membership.

Public Affairs Committee: Dr. Friedman reported that the Committee has been actively working on several projects:

Concerning changes in FDA labelling of drugs, a letter of support has been sent to Bern Schwetz of FDA, and a follow-up letter will be sent nominating drugs that are a high priority for re-labelling.

The symposium on therapeutic teratogens will be summarized and submitted to Teratology. The 1997 Public Affairs symposium will be on nutrition and teratogenesis and be organized by John Harris.

The position paper on folate supplementation is almost completed and will be sent to Council shortly. A draft update of the vitamin A position paper is due to be completed in January 1997. Dr. Lary is drafting a position paper on hormone disrupters, due to be completed in Spring 1997. If a consensus statement is not possible, the paper will consist of a list of research needs.

Committee Assignments: Dr. Cordero circulated a roster of committee assignments (attached). The Editor Search Committee will be asked to draft qualifications for candidates and publish these in the newsletter; select applicants; and generate a short list of candidates to be interviewed in 1997.

Personnel Issues: Confidential performance reviews and salary administration for the Teratology Society staff were discussed. A summary of performance reviews and decisions on salary administration are on file with the Secretary.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:00 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

George P. Daston, Ph.D.





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