Press Release: Diverse Birth Defects Research and the Science of Tomorrow to Be Recognized

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Press release also available on PRWeb.

'Our foundation as a multi-disciplinary society led the way for innovative research that continues to move us toward a healthier future’

RESTON, VIRGINIA—Some of the world’s leading scientists will be recognized for their research on birth defects, including alcohol and cannabinoid exposure on brain development, caffeine exposure during pregnancy, and gene-environmental interactions in autism. The special lectures and awards will be presented at the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention’s (BDRP) first-ever Virtual Annual Meeting June 25, 29 and 30, as well as July 1 and 2, 2020.

At a fraction of the cost of its traditional in-person Annual Meeting, the BDRP virtual presentations will also cover other hot topics such as the latest birth defects research surrounding opioids, gene therapy, and obesity in pregnancy. For the full Virtual Annual Meeting schedule, including opportunities for Continuing Medical Education credits, please visit

The Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention is an international and multidisciplinary group of scientists including researchers, clinicians, epidemiologists, and public health professionals from academia, government, and industry who study birth defects, reproduction, and disorders of developmental origin. Through its 2020 awards, the unique diversity of the birth defects research field is underscored. “Our foundation as a multi-disciplinary society led the way for innovative research that continues to move us toward a healthier future,” said Chris Curran, PhD, BDRP President. “As scientists, we have always recognized the transformative power of diversity in the many disciplines represented in the Society and we hope to inspire more scientists of all backgrounds to get involved in this rewarding research.”   

The 2020 Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention award recipients and special lecturers include: 

Keynote Lecture

Diana W. Bianchi, MD, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Scheduled Presentation: “Prenatal Genomic Medicine: Transforming Obstetric Practice and Delivering New Biological Insights”

Josef Warkany Lecture

Linda S. Birnbaum, PhD, DABT, ATS, Scientist Emeritus and Former Director, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program

Scheduled Presentation: “POPs: A Plethora of Developmental Effects”

Robert L. Brent Lecture: Teratogen Update

Karen W. Gripp, MD, FAAP, FACMG, A.I. duPont Hospital for Children/Nemours

Scheduled Presentation: “From Dysmorphology to Next-Generation Phenotyping”

Clarke Fraser New Investigator Award

Joshua F. Robinson, PhD, University of California, San Francisco

Scheduled Presentation: “Establishing a Research Program in Developmental Toxicology Utilizing In Vitro Models and Big Data Approaches”

Agnish Fellowship

Elaine M. Faustman, PhD, University of Washington

Scheduled Presentation: “Educating Future Birth Defects Researchers: Opportunities in the Era of Personalized Medicine, Systems Biology, and CRISPR Technologies” 

James G. Wilson Publication Award 

Kristen R. Breit, PhD, San Diego State University

The effects of alcohol and cannabinoid exposure during the brain growth spurt on behavioral development in ratsBirth Defects Research 111.12: 760-774 (2019) 

Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention Innovator Award Finalists

Myrto Dimopoulou, PhD, Toxys

Title: ReproTracker: A Human Stem Cell-Based Biomarker Assay for In Vitro Assessment of Developmental Toxicity.

Colette Miller, PhD, US Environmental Protection Agency

Title: A Tale of Two Livers: The Impact of Sex on Hepatic Gene Expression in the Adolescent Rat Exposed to Ozone During Implantation.

Lena Smirnova, PhD, Johns Hopkins University

Title: Studying Gene-Environmental Interactions in Autism with iPSC-derived BrainSpheres: microRNA and Metabolic Biomarkers of the Synergy. 

Edward W. Carney Distinguished Service Award

Alan M. Hoberman, PhD, DABT, ATS, Charles River

Marie W. Taubeneck Award

Bevin Blake, PhD, NTPL/NIEHS

Edward W. Carney Trainee Awards

  • Bevin Blake, PhD, NTPL/NIEHS
  • Haneesha Mohan, PhD, Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, University Health Network

FASEB Howard Garrison Public Affairs Fellowship

Mona Dai, PhD Student, Harvard University

Birth Defects Research Distinguished Scholar Awards

  • Marlene Anderka, ScD, MPH, for research associated with Medications used to treat nausea and vomiting of pregnancy and the risk of selected birth defects; BDRA, 94.1: 22-30 (2012)
  • Robert L. Brent, MD, PhD, for research associated with Evaluation of the reproductive and developmental risks of caffeine; BDRB, 92.2:152-187 (2011)


For a full list of Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention awards and recipients, please visit:


About the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention

The Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention (BDRP) is made up of nearly 700 members worldwide specializing in a variety of disciplines, including developmental biology and toxicology, reproduction and endocrinology, epidemiology, cell and molecular biology, nutritional biochemistry, and genetics as well as the clinical disciplines of prenatal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics, neonatology, medical genetics, and teratogen risk counseling. Scientists interested in BDRP membership are encouraged to visit  

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Media Contact: Nicole Chavez, 619-368-3259,

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