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Teratology Society Interim Council Meeting
Tremont Plaza Hotel, Baltimore MD
November 6, 1998

Call to order—The meeting was called to order at 8:00 AM EDT on November 6, 1998. In attendance were Tony Scialli, Phil Mirkes, Bob Kavlock, Tonia Masson, Bob Seegmiller, Rick Finnell, John Rogers, Dave Wise, George Daston and Barbara Hales. Tony Scialli presided.

Minutes of Previous Council Meeting. The minutes were approved previously via email.

President's Report— Tony Scialli
Corporate Sponsors and Membership:
Efforts have been focused in these two main areas, and have included sending personalized letters to potential corporate supporters and recruiting members from SOT and the other member societies of IFTS. Tony asked the Membership Committee to simplify the application process by eliminating the need for a sponsor letter. Furthermore, a web site-based application is now under development, and a competition for sponsorship of new members will be announced in the winter issue of the Newsletter. With regard to corporate sponsors, potential groups were contacted in August, well in advance of their 1999 budget-planning season.

Agreement with Wiley-Liss:
Tony suggested that a discussion take place between the Society and Wiley-Liss to resolve concerns about their past commitments, plans for the journal, use of page allotments, etc. (see agenda item below).

Tony had previously charged the Treasurer and Executive Secretary to make a budget that is realistic and balanced. George Daston was previously asked to develop an annual meeting budget, keeping in mind the terms received from Keystone.

ADG Costs:
Tony pointed out that operating costs for the society have run well above what was anticipated. While we have received excellent value for our money and while the society has been transformed into a more efficient organization that it has ever been, there is concern about ADG costs. It is anticipated that we will receive the same excellent help from our new Executive Secretary, Tonia Masson, at the same time returning to a well-designed budget.

Vice President’s Report—George Daston
Annual Meeting Update. George announced the formation of an ad hoc Program Committee consisting of Bill Scott, Jodie Duffy, Melissa Tassinari (Education Committee), Bob Parker (Student Affairs Committee) and himself. He has received a number of symposium suggestions, including HIV transmission and treatment, oxidative stress and apoptosis, the Wiley-Liss symposium on skeletal development; and the Public Affairs symposium on post-marketing surveillance. Funding is being sought from the March of Dimes for the HIV symposium, and NIEHS funding for the oxidative stress symposium. NBTS has expressed an interest in co-sponsoring the HIV symposium.

In addition, a workshop on performance of developmental toxicity studies, sponsored by MARTA/MTA, is being planned and will be open to a limited number of students. The Education Committee is developing a course on postnatal toxicology. Planning for the Wiley-Liss symposium on skeletal development is being led by Karen Augustine of the Publications Committee. Further discussion focused on the details the meeting schedule, particularly the Sunday, July 4, agenda, possibly to include the workshop on developmental toxicity.

Wiley-Liss has informed us that, should we submit our program electronically, they will need a final copy by mid-March in order to publish the abstracts in the May issue of Teratology. This is 3-4 weeks earlier than usual. George indicated that he had asked Lew Holmes to intercede with Wiley to move the deadline back to the traditional mid-April. Additional discussion took place about the feasibility of printing the program and abstracts privately. This suggestion was discarded because of cost considerations. George indicated that he believed that the deadline could be moved. In any case, the deadline for abstracts will remain the same as last year, February 8. This may decrease the amount of time that the Program Committee has to do its work, but this problem may be unavoidable.

ACTION ITEM: Dave Wise will post a tentative meeting schedule on the web site.

George presented an estimated budget for the 1999 annual meeting. The total costs are estimated to be comparable to that for the 1998 meeting. A schedule for registration fees will be made after finalizing arrangements with Keystone Resort and a review of last year’s receipts. Meeting registration fees are expected to be comparable to those for 1998 and less than for the 1997 meeting.

Site Selection Committee:
George will remain chair of this committee until meeting venues for 2001 and 2002 have been settled. The committee, consisting of Tony Scialli, Barbara Hales, Kathy Sulik, Bob Kavlock (chair-elect) and Clarissa Wilson (ex officio), approved Montreal and Salt Lake City as the leading candidates for meeting sites for the above years, respectively. Clarissa has been directed to negotiate a contract with the leading hotel choice(s) in Montreal. Salt Lake City will have just finished hosting the Winter Olympics in 2001-02, which should make it a popular venue for the 2002 meeting. We are considering proposals from several sites in and around Salt Lake City.

Treasurer’s Report—John Rogers
Interim Budget Report:
John reviewed the annual budget with the aim of cutting costs and making for a more realistic operating budget for the Society. Several items were targeted for cost reduction. Included among these items were ADG billable hours for binding the council notebook and designing/publishing the Newsletter. Additional items that need to be addressed are the 58 members who have not paid their dues for 1998, amounting to $9,200. With regard to contributions, we have budgeted $42,000 but in fact received only a fraction of this amount. Following a line-by-line budget analysis, it was agreed that several changes are in order.

ACTION ITEM: Tony will talk to Lew Holmes about publishing the membership directory under the page budget for the journal.

Tony suggested that past over-expenditures in regards to ADG’s services were due in part to one-time start-up costs, e.g., development of a membership database. In the future, the budget should be setup such that actual expenditures can be compared with previously budgeted amounts on a monthly basis. Phil asked for an accounting of any overage above the $58,000 that was budgeted for ADG staff costs. Bob Kavlock suggested that we provide a more accurate estimate of the magnitude of the overage as well as an accounting of the details of that overage. He further noted the need to have Society members perform tasks and not rely on ADG for everything, as that drives up costs considerably. In conclusion, the Society is over the estimated budget, but Council expects that we can get return to budget once all changes are completed and the operation of the Society is running smoothly.

It was agreed that the Interim Council meeting should become a line-item budgeted cost of $10,000 An amount of $12,000 is to be budgeted for three issues of the Newsletter per year (the Fall 1999 issue will be the first to be posted only on the web site).

ACTION ITEM: John was asked to submit to Council a revised operating budget for review and approval. He will look into the possibility of placing more of the Society’s current assets ($108,811) into income earning accounts. The Finance Committee will assist John in determining how much of the assets should be in a reserve account.

The issue was raised that voluntary fund-raising in the Society is not producing significant revenue. Phil noted that Bern Schwetz had led a subcommittee of the ad hoc Strategic Planning Committee on fundraising. Phil suggested that Bern might have ideas for the Finance Committee on how to improve our fundraising efforts.

ACTION ITEM: John and Tony will talk to Bern about the matter.

Secretary’s Report—Bob Seegmiller
Membership update:
The Society has 761 members as of October 26, 1998. A significant number of members were shown as having not paid—58 (President’s Circle numbers are included in these counts) for 1998 and an additional 14 for 1997. The amount of dues not collected for 1998 was $9003. Seven new member applications have been received and provided to the Membership Committee for review. A discussion ensued as to the accuracy of the number of paid and non-paid members. A recommendation was made that Tonia and Bob validate the list of members. Tony offered to write individuals who have not paid, asking them why they have not renewed.

ACTION ITEM: Tonia will submit to Tony a list of individuals who supposedly have not paid their 1998 dues, and he will write them asking them why they have not renewed.

Member-Dues Revision:
The dues for regular membership are $115 ($66 to the Society and $49 for journal subscription). Dues for foreign membership (regular and excluding Canada) are $115 ($7 to the Society, $49 to the journal and $59 for postage). It was pointed out that the members had previously voted that the excess foreign postage be absorbed by the general membership. The question was raised whether the present dues of $115 is appropriate, in light of expected open-ended increases in journal publishing costs from Wiley-Liss. Phil proposed that a decision concerning member dues be postponed until more is learned about the Wiley-Liss proposed cost increase and until more details about the Society’s operating budget are presented by the Treasurer, John Rogers.

Councilor’s Report—Dave Wise
Continued improvements on the web site are being made, including placing on it the committee chair documents created at Phil’s suggestion. Further efforts will be to continue strengthening the web site committee and to recommend the appointment of a new chair to that committee.

Councilor’s Report—Barbara Hales
Barbara reported that development of the primer on teratology is on track. All writers asked to assist in this endeavor have agreed and are quite enthusiastic. She anticipates having all manuscripts in by November/December for editing. An announcement of the primer’s progress and availability will be posted on the web site. Funds have been requested from private sources for printing 10,000 copies for distribution and use by the Society.

Committee Reports
In response to the charge given by the President to streamline the application process, the committee plans to discuss issues related to member retention and recruitment. These plans include requiring a sponsor who would be contacted for a response, but dropping the requirement for a letter from that sponsor.

Constitution and Bylaws
The discussion focused on the need to rewrite the Constitution and Bylaws. The committee, under the direction of Pia Lindstrom, Chair, suggested seeking membership opinion on this issue. Tony provided several examples where rewriting the constitution would simplify the procedures and improve the efficiency of governing the Society. George indicated that he would rewrite the constitution and bylaws and send it to the Constitution and Bylaws Committee for their consideration.

In response to the name change issue, the committee suggests that changing the Society’s name would not address our underlying problems, and another amendment to change the Society’s name is unwarranted at this time. However, a compromise was suggested—that of adding "Birth Defects Research" to our journal cover and correspondence letterhead. The committee also believes that the logo should be changed.

ACTION ITEM: Tony will check with March of Dimes to see why they have stopped using Birth Defects as part of their name/identy.

There was a discussion about the pros and cons of a new logo for the Society. Tony reiterated the point that he had made in his newsletter article, that for many people outside the Society the micrograph of an embryo conveyed no message and for some had a negative connotation. Others expressed the opinion that for scientists within the Society the nature of the current logo was clear and a reasonable representation of what the Society does. Rick Finnell described the significant communication benefits that can be derived from a well-designed logo, but he stressed the importance of a professional design.

Motion. George moved that we look into the feasibility and cost of a new logo, for which the principal purpose would be communication outside the Society in fund-raising and advocacy. This was approved. Council directed that up to $3000 be set aside in the budget for the purpose of logo design.

Partnering (ad hoc)
Michael Cunningham has been working on some joint activities between the American Cleft Palate Craniofacial Association (ACPA) and the Teratology Society. In the year 2003, the ACPA meeting is being planned for Seattle. The ACPA membership is open to a joint meeting time and place to facilitate interactions between the two societies. Ideas ranged from partially overlapping meetings with programs that foster overlapping interests to fully overlapping meetings in the same or adjoining conference centers. The ACPA usually meets in April and Teratology Society in June, therefore, partnering with ACPA would probably require a time-shift in our meeting. Tony asked for a survey question to be posed to the membership, i.e., should future meetings be held earlier in June or even as early as May.

ACTION ITEM: Phil will communicate to Chair Michael Cunningham about the possibility of holding a joint meeting with the Cleft Palate Society in Seattle, May of 2003.

ACTION ITEM: Tony will obtain a copy of the Cleft Palate Society’s mailing list from Michael to invite their members to join our Society.

Nominations and Elections
Tom Flynn, Chair, made several recommendations. ( a) Long-time (>20 years) Society members who have not yet served in an elected office should be identified. The committee should search carefully for the right people to serve in positions, inasmuch as the Society is in a time of great change. The Committee should be able to meet a late November deadline for getting ballots and bio-sketches out with the February Newsletter, saving the Society money that would be expended for a separate mailing. The means should be established that would maintain a "committee memory.". The committee working as a whole, rather than each member working individually should generate the final ranking of candidates. Prior service on Council demonstrates the kind of dedication to the Society that would be highly desirable in a President.

ACTION ITEM: Tom Flynn, Chair, will try to have the committee’s top choices by early December 1998, and try for the December Newsletter, but a separate mailing may be necessary.

The committee plans to work with the business office to clarify expenses and to limit expenditures. An important goal of this committee is to seek financial donations for both the general fund of the Society and support of specific meeting events and Society functions. Included in this is an effort to find ways to reduce the cost to members of attending the annual meeting. It would be helpful if we developed specific objectives and then focused on a specific monetary goal and mount a fund-raising campaign.

ACTION ITEM: John Rogers, Chair, will present to Council a revised budget (see previous discussion under Treasurer’s report).

This committee has begun to select a topic and speakers (should be lined up by November) for the 1999 annual meeting. Drs. Kok-Wah Hew from Novartis and Ida Smoak from N.C. State have agreed to join the committee. Dr. Jolynda Jones has agreed to be the secretary and will remain for an extra year on the committee to serve as Chair next year. It would be helpful to offer our speakers the option of computer presentations. If previous rotations in topics were followed, then something on postnatal development would be a good general topic. This topic may also have some interest due to the increased concern for children’s health and safety.

ACTION ITEM: George will follow up on the matter.

Bob K. recommended Barbara Abbott as a member of the Education Committee.

ACTION ITEM: Tony will ask Melissa Tassinari, to ask Barbara Abbott to be a member of the committee.

Public Affairs
The committee is involved in developing consensus statements on thalidomide, alcohol, rubella, and endocrine disrupters. Concern was raised that preparation of the consensus statements is progressing slowly. Council recommended that the statements should be prioritized.

ACTION ITEM: Tony will discuss with Ken Jones, Chair, the progress being made on these position statements.

The discussion focused on the future structure of the Journal. Relative to a rate increase of the journal, Tony will not consider one until we meet our page allowance, which is considerably under-subscribed. Tony read a letter written to Jose Cordero from Mr. Herrington of Wiley-Liss wherein Wiley promised to develop a standing relationship with the Society and the new editor of Teratology. It was noted that there are seven years left on contract with Wiley.

ACTION ITEM: George will recommended an ad hoc committee of Bob Kavlock, George Daston, and Lew Holmes to contact Joe Ingram and Robert Harrington of Wiley-Liss. The purpose is to improve relationships between the Publisher and the Society so that we can meaningfully resolve our differences over contractual issues, including journal subscription fees and postage charges.

ACTION ITEM: Tony will obtain a report from Lew Holmes concerning manuscript flow and other matters.

The program for the annual meeting will soon be electronically available. Hence, the information can be submitted via computer disk, email or hard copy.

ACTION ITEM: The deadlines for abstract submittal and submission of program material to Wiley-Liss will be worked out between George and Bill Landau in time to include Call for Abstracts Information in the next Newsletter.

Student Affairs
Tony will talk to Bob Parker about the photos of the 1998 meetings that were to be posted on the web site.

Newsletter (ad hoc)
The budget allows for three printed issues, but our goal is to place the third on the web site. Therefore, the September 1999 Newsletter will be web site-based rather than hard copy. Nine consultants are advertising on the Web site for a total of $225. To date, $270 has been received for advertisements in the Newsletter.

Web Site Committee (ad hoc)
The web site, chaired by Dave Wise, continues to improve functionally; feedback to the web site has been useful.

Dave is working out the specifics of linking to a message posting web site (called WebBoard) associated with the REPROTOX site. The developers of that site are supportive of this link and association. Thus in the near future the "Bulletin Board" area of the web site will be linked to this other site, and members can contribute letters and comments on their own. This WebBoard will also serve to contain the MARTA/MTA Hotlines. It is possible to create "private" conference areas where topics would only be seen and available to society and association members.

ACTION ITEM: Dave will explore what is needed to implement this.

Executive Secretary Report—Tonia
A working calendar was presented to Council, with emphasis on specific deadlines. November 3—Winter Newsletter submission deadline; February 1—abstract submission deadline (Wiley-March 15); March 3—Spring Newsletter submission deadline; June 3—Summer Newsletter submission deadline (electronic format); June 29-July 4—1999 Annual Meeting-Keystone Colorado.

A total of $433 remains to be collected from Rhone-Poulerc Agro, University of Southern Albama for the 1998 Annual meeting. At the 1999 Annual Meeting, Elsevier Sciences will co-sponsor the welcoming reception.

Motion to adjourn at 3:00 PM.






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