Press Release: From Innovation to Application, Cutting-Edge Birth Defects Research to Be Recognized

Researcher of Epidemic Vaccine Development and Deployment during Pregnancy Among Featured Speakers 

Press release also available on Cision PRWeb

RESTON, VIRGINIA—From utilizing machine learning for streamlining public health emergency response, to the ethical debate of including pregnant people in scientific research, some of the world’s leading scientists will come together and be recognized for their breakthrough birth defects-related research. The special lectures and award presentations will be highlighted during the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention’s 61st Annual Meeting being held virtually June 24–July 1, 2021.

The virtual presentations will also cover other hot topics such as the latest birth defects research surrounding assessing reproductive risks from fracking and mountaintop mining, cannabis use in pregnancy, and the effects of water fluoridation on neurodevelopment. For the full virtual meeting schedule, including opportunities for continuing education, please visit

The Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention (BDRP) 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. Despite the challenges of the current pandemic and social distancing, 2021 virtual meeting attendees will have invaluable career opportunities. “Networking is a cornerstone of our annual meeting, and this year attendees will have more opportunities to partake in interactive and engaging experiences through a dynamic virtual platform, all while connecting from the comfort and safety of your home or office,” said Elise Madison Lewis, PhD, BDRP President. “In addition, our trainees and early career professionals will have an opportunity to learn more about our Society through mentorship.” 

The 2021 Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention award recipients and special lecturers include:

Keynote Lecture

Carleigh Krubiner, PhD, Center for Global Development and Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics

Scheduled Presentation: Pregnancy and the Perils of Precaution: The Ethical Imperative to Protect Pregnant People through Research

Josef Warkany Lecture

Peter Wells, PharmD, University of Toronto

Scheduled Presentation: Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and DNA Damage/Repair in Developmental Disorders

Robert L. Brent Lecture: Teratogen Update

Sonja A. Rasmussen, MD, MS, University of Florida College of Medicine

Scheduled Presentation: Identifying New Human Teratogens: Revisiting Shepard's Criteria

Clarke Fraser New Investigator Award

Vijaya Kancherla, PhD, Emory University

Scheduled Presentation: Consequentialist Epidemiology of Birth Defects: Early Career Experiences and Key Findings from National and Global Research

Patricia Rodier Mid-Career Award for Research and Mentoring

Michael T. Williams, PhD, Cincinnati Children’s Research Foundation

Scheduled Presentation: Manganese Overexposure during Development: Environmental and Genetic Effects

Agnish Fellowship

Ronald Hood, PhD, ATS, The University of Alabama

Scheduled Presentation: Education, Service, and Career Paths in the Multidisciplinary Science of Birth Defects Causation and Prevention 

James G. Wilson Publication Award for the best paper published in the journal Birth Defects Research

Richard Lusk, Deloitte Consulting, LLP, John Zimmerman, Deloitte Consulting, LLP, and Nicole M. Roth, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Exploratory analysis of machine learning approaches for surveillance of Zika‐associated birth defectsBirth Defects Research, 112.18:1450–1460 (2020)

Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention Innovator Award Finalists

  • Hao H. Chen, PhD, University of California San Francisco; Abstract Title: Transcriptomic and proteomic profiling of alternative flame retardant exposures in human embryonic stem cell neural derivatives
  • Georgia G. Pitsava, MD, NIH Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; Abstract Title: Exome sequencing findings in 115 children with annular pancreas
  • Philip J. Lupo, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine; Abstract Title: Newborn Screening Analytes and Structural Birth Defects: Evaluating Novel Associations using a Phenotypic Spectrum Analysis

Wilson Presentation Award Finalists

Graduate Students

  • Kian Afsharian, University of Toronto
  • Daniel Valladares, University of Florida
  • Lama Iskandarani, McGill University
  • Danielle Drake, University of Toronto

Postdoctoral Fellows

  • Sanaz Momben Abolfath, PhD, US Food and Drug Administration
  • Corrine Ruktanonchai, PhD, Virginia Tech
  • Karen E. Boschen, PhD, University of North Carolina
  • Gavin Knight, PhD, University of Wisconsin

Edward W. Carney Distinguished Service Award

John M. Rogers, PhD, US Environmental Protection Agency and ToxStrategies, Inc.

Birth Defects Research Distinguished Scholar Awards

  • De-Kun Li, MD, PhD, for research associated with A Systematic Review to Calculate Background Miscarriage Rates using Life Table Analysis; BDRA, 94.6: 417-423 (2012) and In Utero Exposure to Bisphenol-A and Anogenital Distance of Male Offspring, Birth Defects Research–Part A, 91.10: 867–872 (2011)
  • Marilyn H. Silva, PhD, DABT, and Lauren Zeise, PhD, for research associated with A Comparison of ToxCast Test Results with In Vivo and Other In Vitro Endpoints for Neuro, Endocrine, and Developmental Toxicities: A Case Study Using Endosulfan and Methidathion; Birth Defects Research–Part B, 104.2:71–89 (2015)


For a full list of Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention awards and recipients, please visit: Follow #BDRP2021 on social media to get BDRP Virtual Annual Meeting-related news.

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

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