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TERATOLOGY SOCIETY ANNUAL BUSINESS MEETING
The Breakers
Palm Beach, Florida
June 24, 1997

Dr. Cordero called the meeting to order at 6:00 PM EDT. Approximately 115 members were in attendance.

Approval of Minutes: The minutes of the 1996 annual business meeting were approved.

Secretary's Report: Dr. Daston reported that the Society currently has 798 members, most of whom are full members. There are 5 associate, 12 student, 61 emeritus and 3 honorary members. Seventy-four members were delinquent in their dues as of this date.

The Society has 13 companies in its President's Circle and 16 corporate members.

The report was approved by consensus.

Eulogy for Dr. Pexieder: Dr. Ferencz summarized the contributions of Dr. Tomas Pexieder, who passed away unexpectedly last year.

President's Report: Dr. Cordero reported that we had failed to occupy the minimum number of room-nights specified in our contract with The Breakers for the 1997 annual meeting. As with last year's problem with room slippage, the problem arose because of overly optimistic predictions of annual meeting attendance made in 1994, when the contract was signed. At that time the size of the annual meetings had been growing steadily for several years, and we had just had our most highly attended meeting ever, in Puerto Rico. Although we decreased our occupancy obligation by the maximum amount allowed in the contract, this was still insufficient to cover the shortfall in attendance. Dr. Cordero explained that The Breakers will forgive all of the financial penalty stipulated in the contract if we agree to return for our 2000 annual meeting.

Dr. Cordero introduced Mr. Fred Edson, Sales Manager at The Breakers, to explain the contract for 2000. Mr. Edson stated that the new contract would be comparable to the agreement for 1997. The Breakers will guarantee that room rates will not increase more than 5% per year from the $115 rate offered in 1997. He also stated that the hotel is building a new beach club and additional meeting space that will be available for our 2000 meeting. The meeting will be held June 24-29, 2000, the traditional week for our annual meeting.

Dr. Cordero recommended that the meeting return to The Breakers in 2000. Dr. Oakley endorsed this recommendation. A motion to that effect was made and passed by consensus.

Dr. Cordero reported that the number of abstracts being submitted to the annual meeting was down again this year, and that there had been a continuous decline since 1994, when 214 abstracts were submitted. He believes that the decrease reflects a general decrease in funding for teratology research. These issues have been of concern to Council. Therefore, an ad hoc Strategic Planning Committee was formed to develop a long-range plan with goals for improvement and growth. Dr. Cordero reported that the results of the committee's work had been presented to the membership at an open forum earlier in the day, chaired by Dr. Mirkes.

Dr. Cordero stated that we had successfully renewed our partnership with the Organization of Teratogen Information Services (OTIS), which held its meeting in conjunction with ours. OTIS has already made plans to hold its meeting with ours in 1998. We continue to enjoy our long standing partnership with the Neurobehavioral Teratology Society, which continues to plan its meetings in conjunction with ours.

Dr. Cordero indicated that we were able to sponsor a speaker from Brazil at this year's meeting, and he hopes that we will be able to continue our outreach to Latin America and other developing regions.

Dr. Cordero reported that Council had explored the possibility of seeking associate membership status in FASEB, and Council recommends that we do so. The cost of associate membership is $5000 per year. FASEB has considerable influence on issues related to legislation and Congressional funding of biomedical research, as well as apportionment of funds, the nature of graduate education, and a variety of other topics of interest to the Teratology Society. FASEB develops its positions by holding consensus conferences, to which we, as an associate member, would have the right to send representatives and participate fully. We were invited to observe one such conference, on graduate education, last Fall. Dr. Francis spent a day at the conference and felt that there was an opportunity to participate, although it is likely to take time and effort to optimize our influence.

A discussion followed. Dr. Brent asked how many of our members are already members of FASEB. Dr. Dearlove asked whether the $5000 dues was a flat fee or based on the size of our membership. Dr. Cordero replied that it was a flat rate until we grow large enough to qualify for full membership status. Dr. Slikker asked for the opinion of the Legislative Affairs Committee. Dr. Francis interjected that the consensus conference she attended did not address a legislative topic. Dr. Scialli replied that our Legislative Affairs Committee has never been successful at influencing legislation, but that FASEB has done a much better job. He felt that the per member cost of FASEB associate membership was sufficiently low that, given the opportunity to make headway, it was worth trying for a few years. He also indicated that we would need to appoint a member in the Washington, DC area to represent us at the consensus conferences, but that this was not a problem. Dr. Mirkes added that there is a National Research Council report being drafted on developmental toxicology that is likely to attract the attention of Congress. He felt that we would be in a better position to influence Congress's response if we worked through FASEB.

It was moved that we seek associate membership in FASEB. It was clarified that we will not be holding our annual meeting with FASEB. The motion passed by consensus.

Treasurer's Report: Dr. Francis distributed a detailed financial report that she had prepared. She acknowledged the conscientious work of Ms. Lemire and Ms. Kagan in managing the Society's finances and keeping costs in line. Income for the Society was approximately $300,000, mostly from the annual meeting. Dr. Francis noted the significance of corporate sponsors and the Education Fund to the Society's bottom line. Net income from the annual meeting has consistently been in the $30-40,000 range for the last several years, with the exception of the 1994 which incurred a $16,500 loss. Dr. Francis explained that she has made changes in how we account for operating expenses and meeting expenses, to comply with new accounting laws.

Dr. Brent requested an itemized comparison of income and expenses. Dr. Francis explained that this was included in her written report that was distributed. Dr. Cordero commented that the loss at the 1994 meeting would have been greater except for a contribution from the Puerto Rican government. Dr. Collins inquired whether the $10,000 penalty for room slippage incurred after the 1996 annual meeting was included in the calculation of meeting revenue. Dr. Francis indicated that it was. Dr. Collins also indicated that approval for government workers to travel to the annual meeting often comes too late to meet the registration deadline for the hotel, and wanted to make sure that all meeting attendees were accounted for when room occupancy is calculated.

The Treasurer's report was approved by consensus.

Society Management: Dr. Daston reported that Council had looked into several options for professional management of the Teratology Society. Council reviewed several proposals, including maintaining our current staff. After considerable deliberation, site visits by two Council members, and cost comparisons, Council recommends that we hire Association Development Group (ADG), beginning January 1, 1998. ADG is located in the suburbs of Washington, DC. It manages a number of professional societies, including the Society of Toxicology. ADG has a staff with expertise in management, meeting planning, accounting, computers, desktop publishing and other skills that we require. The costs of all of the options that were considered appear comparable, and are comparable to our current management situation. The advantage to the Society will be a greater range of expertise than is available with current staff, particularly in the area of meeting planning.

A great number of questions were raised by members attending the meeting about the reasons for the change and its cost. A motion was made to support Council's decision to enter into a contract with ADG. The motion carried.

Vice President's Report: Dr. Mirkes reported that the discussion of the strategic plan in open session earlier in the afternoon had been productive. He reported that the Society's room occupancy commitment for the 1998 meeting site -- the Princess Hotel in San Diego -- was comparable to the meeting attendance in 1996 and 1997. The room rate will be $120/night. The dates of the meeting will be June 20-25, 1998.

Committee Reports:

Nominations and Elections: Dr. John M. Rogers announced the results of the elections: Dr. Seegmiller is the new Secretary, Dr. Finnell Councilor, and Dr. Daston Vice President-Elect.

Editor Search: Dr. Schardein reported that the committee had received six nominations. Four were interviewed by phone, and two were recommended for Council's consideration. Council was still deliberating at the time of the business meeting.

Education: Dr. Wier reported that there were 173 attendees at this year's course, "Experimental Approaches for Studying Mechanisms of Abnormal Development". He projected the net income from the course to be $19,000. Dr. Wier gratefully acknowledged the continuing support of Hoffman-LaRoche and Narsingh Agnish in preparing the course notebooks and serving as a resource. Craig Harris will chair the committee next year.

Public Affairs: Dr. Friedman indicated that Dr. Manson's name was omitted from the program, but that she was an active member of the committee. He reported that the consensus statement on folic acid was completed and will be published soon in Teratology. The committee continues to support efforts to improve FDA labeling of drugs for use in pregnancy. Dr. Brent will represent the Society at a FDA hearing on labeling. A working group of the committee is preparing an update of the position paper on vitamin A. A consensus statement on hormone disrupters is also being developed by the committee.

Student Affairs: Dr. Fantel reported that 27 student travel awards had been made this year, two being supported by the Eli Lilly Co. He stated that the committee was using a new process to select candidates for the student awards, with 8 students being pre-selected on the basis of materials submitted at the time of the abstract deadline, to participate in a special platform session on the last day of the meeting. There were fewer submissions with the new process, but Dr. Fantel felt that they were of high quality.

Membership: Dr. Buttar reported that his committee had evaluated the applications of 46 prospective members: 37 regular, 7 student and 2 associate members. Their names had been posted on a bulletin board since the start of the annual meeting. The slate was approved by consensus of the membership.

Editor-in-Chief: Dr. Sadler reported that over 100 manuscripts were submitted to the journal in 1996, and 55 had been submitted to this point in 1997. Publication of the journal is still behind because of this low manuscript submission rate. An entire issue of the journal will be devoted to U.S. birth defects registry data, and another issue to the proceedings of a symposium on reproductive and developmental effects of radiation sponsored by NCRP in April 1997 and chaired by Dr. Brent. Dr. Sadler indicated that the impact factor for Teratology had returned to its historical ranking in the middle of developmental biology journals: 14th of 23 journals this year.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:05 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

George P. Daston

Secretary

 

 

 

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