The Passing of Past President Daphne Trasler


It is with profound sadness that I share with you the news that Daphne Trasler, a Past President (1972-1973) of the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention then known as the Teratology Society, passed away on August 28, 2021, at age 95, after a brief illness. She is survived by her husband Frank Trasler and children Jacquetta and Tessa, as well as grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Dr. Trasler obtained her PhD in the Laboratory of F. Clarke Fraser in 1958, carrying out research on genetic and other factors that influence the pathogenesis of cleft palate in mice. During her independent career at McGill University, she published ground-breaking studies of the aetiologies of cleft lip, cleft palate and neural tube closure defects in mouse models, showing the importance of gene-teratogen interactions, embryonic developmental mechanisms and molecular defects. 

Her studies demonstrating the role of morphological differences in the shape of the embryonic facial prominences in susceptibility to cleft lip, the role of the tongue in causing cleft palate, and the role of the Pax3 gene in causing neural tube defects continue to influence current birth defects research.

Dr. Trasler taught developmental biology and the methodologies of the study of birth defects to many undergraduate and graduate students at McGill, and supervised the theses of several scientists who went on to study the causes of birth defects in their own careers and to be members of the Society. She is remembered for being an inspiration and role-model for the women in science and medicine who knew her, including her own children and grandchildren.

Condolences can be communicated to the family via the J.J. Cardinal Funeral Home:

In lieu of flowers, please direct donations to McGill University, the McGill University Health Centre, or a charity of your choice.

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