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Teratology Society Interim Council Meeting
Baltimore, MD
October 25, 1999

The meeting was called to order at 8:00 AM on Monday October 25, 1999. In attendance were George Daston, Tonia Masson, Dave Wise, Bob Kavlock, Jan Friedman, Tom Knudsen, Rick Finnell, Ken Jones, John Rogers, and Bob Seegmiller. George Daston presided. Minutes of the previous Council Meeting posted on the website were approved.

President's Report: George Daston

Updates on the Society’s logo and recent activities with Wiley Liss were the main topics presented for discussion.

Logo issue — Fifty for/against comments regarding the logo issue were received, split between two basically different kinds of logos. Comments/suggestions were passed on to the designers who were asked to make one last version. The two designs will then be posted on the web, along with the original logo (with and without minor modifications as suggested by members). Members would then have an opportunity to rank each design. The final decision may be difficult, but everyone in the Society needs a chance to be heard. Bob K. reminded Council that the Society members previously wanted a change. Jan commented that the majority probably doesn’t have a strong opinion, but that doing something in this regard is essential, and that requesting members input via a blanket email is important.

Wiley Liss — Nancy Olsen, who represents WL, has offered us the opportunity to renegotiate our contract with WL. George has sent her a list of concerns as a starting point for negotiations.

As a good will gesture, WL has made available Teratology and all other WL journals on-line to the Society’s membership. Nancy has also asked for suggestions on how to improve the visual appeal of Teratology—Bill Slikker was given charge of this item. The editorial process seems to be headed in the right direction.

The business office received a proposed rate increase for individual subscriptions to the journal (from $49 to $60). George has sent correspondence to Nancy Olsen reminding her that our contract states that any rate increase must be mutually agreed upon by the Society and the publisher. We have not yet received a response. A conference call for later in the afternoon was set up with Nancy. (The contents of the conference call are presented at the end of these minutes. The dues issue was resolved in our favor.)

Selected committee activities/assignments— Student Affairs Committee was assigned to develop a list of objective criteria for evaluating candidates for student awards. Constitution committee was charged with examining and fixing the constitution where there are concerns of parts of it being vague. Nominations and Elections committee was charged with developing a list of those asked to run for various offices.

Vice President's Report: Bob Kavlock

This report focused on the 2000 annual meetings. The compilation of all sessions, along with speaker arrangements, is nearly complete. The Genomics satellite meeting will help fill the room block for Thursday night. An estimated budget was reviewed—costs are expected to be kept to a minimum ($187,750, 25% of which is staff support). Bob K. questioned whether to hold registration fees at the previous rate. Council agreed to hold the line on registration fees. Jan suggested that, as incentive for submitting abstracts electronically, individuals submitting this way be given more time (later deadline) to submit. Bob K. should add a $5000 line item for the cost of handling the abstracts electronically. Dave will make it a practice of notifying submitters of the date and time of their presentations (platform/poster). Bob K. suggested that the call for abstracts go out in December by separate mailing.

A discussion followed with Jan suggesting that Tonia be asked to check on the time spent arranging with other societies attending our meetings, i.e., costs of planning, arranging, etc. Ken suggested that we determine the overall purpose for meeting with other groups, and then invite them to participate with the organizing committee. George stated that our sister societies are aware of the advantages of being linked to our society.

John suggested picking up sponsorships to help cover the cost of the CE course. Dave suggested that in the future (two years from now) we consider having password-access to the web for obtaining copies of course materials. This would save costs after Hoffman LaRoche stops printing the materials.

Site Selection Committee Report: Jan Friedman

The tentative plan for the 2002 meetings (June 20-29) is to go to Phoenix Arizona. This area was chosen because of the directive to look at larger cities. Jan and Clarissa will visit the city in January. Quotes for room rates are between $120 and 160. Operating under the directive to look at the East Coast for the 2003 meetings, the committee has considered the city of Philadelphia.

Treasurer’s Report: John Rogers

Council reviewed the budget, which included a copy of the financial statement through August 31. In summary, assets are up, and the budget is on firm ground. Concerning the list of expenses, there were a few items where we have not met the budget. Eighty percent of expected revenues are in as of August 31. The new budget included cost changes/adjustments to reflect future estimated costs, e.g., having on-line published issues of the Newsletter, and future costs should be approximately one-third of current costs ($4000 instead of 12,000).

Of the current membership, 95 individuals have yet to pay their ’99 dues whereas 614 members are current through ’99; 42 individuals have not renewed their ’98 membership.

Concerning the investment plan, the treasurer has been working with Legg Mason, who suggested that the Society put more of their assets into CDs to increase revenue. This way the principal would be guaranteed against loss. It appears that there is not enough money to put into mutual funds at this point.

A motion was made by Jan to accept the budget including the proposed corrections. Rick seconded, motion passed.

The Society’s contract with an independent auditor expires this year. Tonia recommended that we choose a different auditor for next year. Tonia and John will work together to identify a new auditor. An email will be sent to council members for discussion of the auditor’s proposal.

Executive Secretary’s Report: Tonia Masson

The Society came out in the black at Keystone by approximately $32,000, which is good news. George interjected that the annual meeting needs to generate this much revenue in order to balance the budget because operating expenses for the rest of the year have been consistently running a small deficit.

Tonia related that our management firm made the transition in May to an employee-owned and operated company. The transition was seamless. The personnel who work for the Society are the same, as are the phone numbers and mailing address for the business office. The company’s new name is Association Innovation Management (AIM). Costs have not increased, and the management firm is staying well within the limits of what has been budgeted by the Teratology Society. All agreed that we are getting excellent service from AIM.

Tonia indicated that we have the opportunity to sign a six month contract extension with no increase in management fees. Rick moved to approve the six-month extension of the contract with AIM. Ken seconded, the motion passed. Council will approve the contract with AIM when we see it in the spring.

With regard to fund-raising, Tony did a commendable job in recruiting sponsors for the previous meetings. George indicated that such would be of ever-increasing importance to the Society. An organized plan to solicit sponsor’s support is needed. It was pointed out that some organizations are willing to give unrestricted gifts. Federal funds are also available, e.g., R-13 grants moneys for student awards, student travel and the planned Genomics Symposium workshop.

The list of the 2000 exhibitors is in George’s possession. Questions were raised concerning other philanthropic groups that might be willing to sponsor/contribute in the future. The president’s circle membership (regarding fund raising) should be kept intact. In addition to regular contributors, there is a need to have a sponsor’s list. A discussion took place concerning the need to give appropriate recognition to sponsors (president’s circle, sustaining members, and corporations). For example, recognition could be given for sponsoring the web page, meeting breaks, etc.

George said that he would visit with donors about the possibility of them increasing their level of contribution.

Website update
: Dave Wise

Ken suggested that we get Teratology Society’s name in the public eye by responding to public concerns. The society should be perceived as consisting of experts on environmentally caused birth defects. George suggested developing a policy that would promote the issuing of a press release for each position paper released. He also asked Dave to develop a policy concerning the direction of the Web Committee as it relates to answering questions directed to the website. Another question was raised concerning how to use the website to attract people to the field of Teratology, e.g., position papers, and compendia of people with expertise. In this regard, the Teratology Primer will be posted on the website;. George suggested that a press release should be timed with its publication. Tonia’s group was charged with drafting the language for the press release.

Action item: Tonia should email society members announcing the new student web page.

FASEB update: Tom Knudsen

Several recommendations were made to help Teratology Society members benefit from research funding possibilities:

it would be helpful to know where members are obtaining research funding for reason that the science funded in the future will likely be more broad-based.
discover new ways of attacking developmental disease; risk assessment followed by intervention is one possibility
— identify emerging sub-disciplines

— position ourselves to take advantage of future offerings (funding)

Action items: Tom and John DeSesso (our other representative to the FASEB Consensus Conference on funding), will continue to work with FASEB to ensure that funding for biomedical research, including teratology, continues to increase. In the next Newsletter, Tom will prepare an article about aspects of his interactions with FASEB.

Rick Finnell called attention to a recent RFA released by NICHD (Developmental Mechanisms of Human Malformations, RFA #HD99-008) relevant to members of our Society. It was agreed that this announcement should be transmitted to the membership via the Newsletter and email. Note: see the homepage for links to these RFA's.

Public Affairs Committee: Ken Jones

The following items of business were presented for discussion:

The endocrine disrupter position paper will be placed on the web site in the next month.
A response to an article in JAMA on risks of birth defects from organic solvents was written and signed by 5 individuals of an ad hoc subcommittee of the PAC. The response will be published in Teratology, along with a response from Gideon Koren, an author of the paper. Lew Holmes has written the introduction to the issue. It was recommended that an abbreviated version of the response be sent to JAMA.
Three more position papers are in preparation: the thalidomide paper is ready to go; papers on FAS and marijuana and on hypothyroidism are being developed.

Membership Committee: Bob Seegmiller

The discussion revolved around the status of the Society membership. The importance of soliciting new members was mentioned. George encouraged Council to actively recruit new members and to submit names of individuals who need sponsorship. Karen Filkins has agreed to identify individuals who have clinical background as prospective members. Tom suggested that we invite symposium speakers to join our Society.

Old Business

The ad hoc Societal Participation Committee had been sunsetted earlier this year after consultation with its chair, John DeSesso. However, Tony Scialli had a conversation with Steve Harris at the last annual meeting in which Steve suggested that the work of the committee might not be complete. George had contacted Steve to better understand his views. George related that Steve had expressed the opinion that the leadership of the Society was now doing a good job of being inclusive, so there was no need to re-establish this committee.

Guidance document – George reported that FDA had prepared a draft guidance document to help its reviewers interpret pre-clinical reproductive and developmental toxicity data. He indicated that there was a great deal of interest among Society members in providing help to the FDA and he suggested that this could be done through the aegis of either the Teratology Society or MARTA. He indicated that he would discuss the possibilities with MARTA’s leadership. (Note added: The result of this discussion was that MARTA would take the lead in preparing comments for FDA.)

Conference phone call to Nancy of Wiley-Liss (3 PM)

Council’s first issue was the proposed increase in subscription rate.

Nancy reported that the proposed rate increase had come from a different part of the company without her knowledge. She has worked the issue internally at Wiley to our favor. The rate will be held at the ’99 level through the year 2000. Wiley will provide Council with a written proposal for a rate increase by February 2000 to provide enough time for Council to consider the request and make a recommendation to the membership at the annual meeting.

Council expressed its opinion that any rate increase be negotiated and asked how the process can be improved. Nancy replied that the WL editor (Nancy) is supposed to contact the Society about a price increase. The letter that we received was sent without her knowledge and she promised such a mistake won’t happen again. The proposal for a rate increase that we will see next year will include a rationale for the proposed increase.

Council expressed concern about the magnitude of the rate increase outside of North America and asked that the actual charge for postage be shared with the Society.

Council asked about the status of the contract re-negotiation. Nancy replied that she had asked Wiley’s legal staff to incorporate the proposed changes that George had submitted into the contract. She indicated that we would receive a copy of the draft contract by the following week.

Nancy then reviewed the on-line journal access for the members. Online access to WL journals will be extended indefinitely; George said that the Society office would email this message to members who will hopefully take advantage of this opportunity.

Council asked about Wiley’s marketing campaign for Teratology. Nancy replied that a marketing survey was conducted and the results will soon be sent to Council. Rebecca Morton will contact George.

Meeting was adjourned at 3:30 PM.






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