Program Highlights

Education Courses

Separate registration is required for the Education Courses.
Agenda Details to be provided.

Session 1

Embryology and Toxicology of the Developing Respiratory System (3 Hour Course)
Organized by the Education Committee

Development of the respiratory system is a continuous process beginning early in utero with continued maturation after birth. This course will begin with an overview of normal and abnormal morphological development of the respiratory system. This will be followed by a talk on the functional maturation of the respiratory system providing some insight into comparative differences among species and considerations for the conduct of juvenile toxicity studies. This will be a followed by an overview of agents known to cause toxicity to the developing lung and the session will wrap up with an overview on the use of animal models to study human respiratory disorders.

Session 2

Birth Defects: Causes and Mechanisms (3 Hour Course)
Organized by the Education Committee

There are multiple ways that birth defects may arise during development. This course will begin with an overview of genetic alterations resulting in developmental anomalies and their diagnosis. This will be followed by separate talks on understanding teratogenesis due to disruption of cell-signaling pathways and abnormal embryo-fetal development due to nutritional deficiencies of the maternal diet. Since the causes of birth defects can be multifactorial, the final talk will discuss the interaction of genetic variations with environmental exposures in the etiology of birth defects.

Session 3

New Technologies for Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity Testing: Microphysiological Systems (90 Minute Mini Course)
Organized by the Education Committee

Microphysiological systems (MPS) are in vitro platforms (such as tissues/organs on chips) that mimic the biochemical and mechanical properties of organ or tissue function. These new methodologies provide a new approach to understanding mechanisms of disease and predicting toxicity. The purpose of this mini course is to provide an introduction to MPS models and some examples of their application to reproductive and developmental toxicology testing. The course will include presentations on models relevant to the developing embryo and brain as well as the ovary.

Special Lectures

Josef Warkany Lecture

This lecture recognizes Josef Warkany’s contributions to BDRP. Dr. Warkany was the first person to demonstrate that exposures to environmental chemicals are responsible for production of congenital malformation. His early studies culminated in the formulation of the scientific principles of teratology. This award recognizes a scientist who has significantly contributed to the field over the course of their career.

Robert L. Brent Lecture: Teratogen Update

This lecture recognizes Robert L. Brent’s contributions to the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention and particularly for the implementation of the “Teratogen Update.” The purpose of the Robert L. Brent Lecture is to facilitate the discussion of new and old teratogens during the Annual Meeting. This year’s Robert L. Brent Lecturer is Matthew W. Gillman, MD, SM, National Institutes of Health, who will present on Tuesday, June 28.

F. Clarke Fraser New Investigator Award

This award honors F. Clarke Fraser, one of the founding members of the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention, for his many contributions to the field of developmental toxicology. The award recipient must be an active member of the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention with evidence of a successful, independent research career in birth defects research. This year’s award will be presented on Sunday, June 26.

James G. Wilson Publication Award

This award honors James G. Wilson, one of the founding Society members, and is presented in recognition of the best paper accepted or published in the journal Birth Defects Research during the prior year. The dual purpose of the award is to provide recognition to the author(s) of the best paper and to encourage authors trained in various disciplines to submit high-quality papers to Birth Defects Research. This year’s award will be presented on Sunday, June 26.

Patricia Rodier Mid-Career Award for Research and Mentoring

This award honors the legacy of Dr. Patricia Rodier, a past President of the Developmental Neurotoxicology Society and a Council member of the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention. The award is presented during the annual meetings of the Developmental Neurotoxicology Society and Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention. The awardee will give a presentation related to his/her research at a jointly-sponsored session at the annual meetings. It is intended that the presentation will serve as a demonstration of independent mid-career research in neurobehavioral teratology, birth defects, or other related fields.

Agnish Fellowship

This award recognizes Narsingh Agnish’s contributions to the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention, particularly the implementation of the Education Courses. The Narsingh Agnish Fellowship is awarded to a long-standing member of the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention who has made a major contribution to education in the field of teratology or a related discipline. This year’s recipient will make a presentation on Monday, June 27.

Keynote Lecture

BDRP and European Teratology Society Exchange Lecture

This lecture will take place on Wednesday, June 29.


(Joint with OTIS)

Can Experimental Animal Studies Be Used in Counseling? 1) What experimental animal testing is used to evaluate the developmental toxicity of drugs and other chemicals? 2) How are experimental animal test results used to inform product approval and labeling? 3) Can experimental animal results be used in counseling patients? This session is aimed at clinicians who must interpret data for patients concerned about reproductive or developmental effects of exposures, particularly in the absence of human data. The primary interest to regulators and industry scientists who deal with product labeling will also benefit from hearing how the consumer responds to the nonclinical data that are required for most products.

(Joint with DNTS)

Developmental and reproductive health is impacted by many different and co-occurring chemical exposures. According to US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidance, preferred risk assessment methods for environmental chemical mixtures utilize whole mixture approaches relative to individual component approaches. However, there are challenges in assessing mixture effects in toxicological and epidemiological studies, where detailed information on whole mixtures is often not available. The objective of this symposium is to explore methodological approaches to characterize health effects of exposure to mixtures observed in human and animal studies. Multiple analytic and statistical approaches have been applied in epidemiology and toxicology studies to identify which substances (possibly among a large number measured), are associated with health effects of interest. Mathematical techniques to identify and use data for “sufficiently similar” mixtures or mixture components have also been developed to address data gaps. Novel methods such as these will continue to support informed assessments of chemical mixtures in data poor scenarios. Speakers will demonstrate use of their methods assessing developmental and reproductive health on a variety of environmental chemical mixtures including disinfection byproducts, polychlorinated biphenyls, phthalates, flame retardants, and phenols. From this session, attendees will become more familiar with these novel methods of assessment of complex mixtures and how they can and have been applied to human and animal evaluations.

(Joint with DNTS and OTIS)

This symposium was established to honor the scientific legacy of Dr. Robert L. Brent, a founding member and past president of the Society who was a long-time proponent of rigorous research into the causes of birth defects and clear, careful communication about the risks of medications and other exposures.

He published a classic paper in 2007, “How Does a Physician Avoid Prescribing Drugs & Medical Procedures that have Reproductive and Developmental Risks?” exploring medical and legal issues spanning half a century. In addition to discussing the impact of non-meritorious litigation related to birth defects, he also discussed mechanisms, biological plausibility, and the principles of teratology. Dr. Brent concluded that “determining the reproductive risks of an exposure during pregnancy is not a simple process.” Rigor demands “the careful analysis of the medical and scientific literature pertaining to the reproductive & developmental toxicity of an exposure in both humans and animals as well as a review of the scientific literature pertaining to genetic and environmental causes of the malformation in question. An abridged or superficial evaluation based on incomplete analyses is not acceptable.”

Dr. Brent was also a leader in training new clinicians and developing communication tools to share the state of the science with all concerned. Speakers will review Dr. Brent’s impact on the science of teratology and explore how the increasing use of digital technology and social media can help teratogen information services meet the needs of physicians and their patients without compromising these important standards for assessing teratogenic risk.

Following the talks, short comments and memories will be shared by Dr. Brent's colleagues and collaborators.


There is currently great interest in enhanced strategies and best practices for assessing both new and existing chemicals for a variety of types of effects, including carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, teratogenicity, and developmental toxicity, reproductive toxicity, and endocrine disruption. Recently, an approach has been recommended, and is now being applied, that portends to identify chemicals that cause various types of toxicity according to certain key characteristics. Although this approach is being presented at the BDRP 2021 Annual Meeting, there is a need to continue the discussion and vetting of this approach, as several alternative perspectives exist as to its mechanistic foundations, utility, validation status, and replicability. This session will endeavor to explain these various alternative perspectives on the Key Characteristics approach, beginning with the arena in which it was first developed and applied—carcinogenicity—and extending to areas most relevant to BDRP, including statistical issues inherent to measuring various biological effects, endocrine disruption, and genotoxicity and gene expression.

(Joint with DNTS and OTIS)
Organized by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workgroup

Adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes, such as infant mortality (including infant mortality due to birth defects), preterm birth, developmental disabilities, environmental exposures, and maternal mortality and morbidity occur more frequently among people of color and other groups who have been under-served and affected by historical inequality, unconscious bias, and poverty. Compounding these disparities, research into these issues and efforts to address them are more poorly funded in the US than other maternal and infant health areas. This symposium will provide an understanding of the experience of BIPOC women during pregnancy, illustrate the racial and ethnic disparities that exist in reproductive health, and describe the social and public health need to address and prevent them.

Organized by the Science Committee in collaboration with and sponsorship from the Health and Environmental Sciences Institute (HESI)

The conservation of developmental processes permits the application of quantitative adverse outcome pathway (AOP) models to predict threshold doses that result in teratogenic effects. This workshop focuses on the use of three data-rich reference chemicals (retinoic acid, thalidomide, valproic acid) as tool compounds to investigate the molecular pathways and developmental processes underlying developmental toxicity, and to build and test predictive models encompassing in silico, in vitro, and in vivo approaches. Apical endpoints as adverse outcomes of exposure in pregnant animal models helped us to be able to use each of these agents safely as therapeutic drugs. Understanding how these agents work at the molecular and cellular level has provided valuable insight into understanding DART at a genomic level.

The goal of the DARTable Genome Working Group is to build a comprehensive framework of molecular initiating events (MIEs) and key event biomarkers that result in teratogenicity, which could reduce the need for mammalian animal testing. This workshop will provide a status update of the project and how vast data and information on data-rich reference chemicals can be used to build quantitative relationships between toxicokinetics, toxicodynamics, and interactions with key pathways and processes in the patterning and metabolism of the embryo-fetus. A key challenge for science and technology is to translate information on chemical-biological interactions using in silico predictions, in vitro assays, and in vivo models into a human-relevant quantitative threshold of maternal systemic exposure necessary to produce a teratogenic effect.

(Joint with DNTS)
Organized by the Public Affairs Committee

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made, persistent chemicals used to render consumer products water-, friction- or grease-proof. Some PFAS are well-known for their adverse health effects in humans and animal models. PFAS transfer across the placenta and in breast milk, making these chemicals a priority for child health. Currently the National Academies are undergoing Town Hall meetings across the US to understand citizens' concerns regarding PFAS exposure, health effects, testing, and clinical guidance, including the impact on child health. Endocrine disruption, immune effects, cancer, and neurobehavioral and metabolic disease endpoints are recurring themes. This session introduces PFAS chemicals and their associations with adverse birth outcomes and persistent child health effects in humans and rodent models. Concordance across species, consistency of health effects, and sex-specific trends in health effects are evident. Policy change for PFAS chemicals that protects developing child health, in utero and during breastfeeding, will also be discussed.

(Joint with DNTS)

Environmental justice is an ideal that will be achieved when the same degree of protection from environmental health hazards is afforded to all people and all individuals have equal access in the decision-making process towards a healthy environment. These pursuits require research that highlights health and/or exposure disparities across populations and assesses environmental regulation and policies that seek to support environmental justice. It is well documented that historically disadvantaged and marginalized populations experience disproportionately greater levels of exposure to environmental contaminants, and that numerous environmental contaminants are associated with increased risk for adverse pregnancy and early life outcomes. Therefore, pregnant people and their developing offspring within these highly exposed communities and populations are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of environmental injustice. Given the exacerbation of environmental exposure disparities due to global climate change, environmental injustice is a crisis that requires immediate action. The overarching goal of this symposium is to bring environmental justice to the forefront and facilitate deeper thinking on our role in supporting its attainment as birth defects researchers.


The goal of the NIH-funded Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program (Kids First) is to help researchers uncover new insights into the biology of structural birth defects and childhood cancer, including the discovery of shared genetic pathways between these disorders. Kids First is achieving this goal through two initiatives: 1) identifying children with structural birth defects and/or cancer, as well as their families, for whole genome sequencing performed by the Kids First sequencing centers, and 2) developing the Gabriella Miller Kids First Data Resource, a large-scale database of clinical and genetic data from these individuals and their families. Over 2015–2020, the program selected 40 structural birth defects and childhood cancer cohorts for whole genome sequencing through a peer-review process, representing 16,000 patients and 40,000 genomes. Clinical and genetic data from 19 of the Kids First projects are publicly available through the Gabriella Miller Kids First Data Resource Portal, a cloud-based platform made up of tools to foster analyses and collaborations between structural birth defect and childhood cancer research communities. Kids First is enabling new findings in birth defects and childhood cancers. The overall objective of this session will be to highlight novel findings from Kids First and describe the resources available to the larger research community.


Multidisciplinary Research Needs Workshop

The Research Needs Workshop, first held at the 2018 meeting, is intended to provide meeting attendees an opportunity to participate in breakout discussions on emerging and progressing topics in birth defects research and to define specific research needs. The intent is to encourage collaboration between clinicians, epidemiologists, basic researchers, drug developers, and regulators to develop active and innovative projects. Past workshops resulted in the development of a funded opioid research project and the formation of the joint BDRP/OTIS PRGLAC working group that was very active and influential in the Task Force proceedings. Topics for this year’s workshop will be identified based on a pre-meeting survey.


Organized by the Student Affairs Committee

John M. Rogers, a member of the Editorial Board of Birth Defects Research, will speak for 30 minutes to describe what they are looking for in new submissions, how to get your manuscript published, and any other information that they feel trainees and other individuals need to know to make them successful. For the remainder of the time (approximately 1 hour), BDRP mentors from the major representative sectors, including academia, industry partners and clinicians, will be stationed at tables throughout the room and attendees will be able to go to whichever table they are most interested, to obtain guidance/insight into publishing in that sector. Topics that may be covered include how to navigate confidentiality concerns, translation of study data to publication, determining what is publishable from your dataset, etc. Attendees may move freely from table to table to gain the most relevant information for their area(s) of interest. Due to the format of this workshop, it will only be available to in-person meeting attendees.


Organized by the Science Committee

The next pandemic will come. Understanding how to predict when and what we can do to prepare for it can only be accomplished through understanding lessons learned from previous pandemics. Not only do we have to understand how pandemics start and spread in today's connected world, but we need to ensure that we can protect special populations, such as pregnant persons, and the next generation. The role of vaccines will be discussed.

Platforms and Posters


Organized by the Student Affairs Committee

Special platform session on Sunday, June 26, showcasing the future of the field.


Three finalists selected from the abstract pool will present their research in this special platform session on Sunday, June 26. The BDRP Innovator Award recognizes innovative and translational research at the intersection of at least two of the following areas: basic science, new technologies, clinical research, policy, and outreach.


This platform session will feature short presentations of attendees’ current research and will provide an opportunity for live Q&A.


Attendees present their abstracts during the poster sessions of the meeting. The poster sessions provide a relaxed atmosphere to interact with both trainees and established scientists while viewing the latest birth defects research. Poster Session 1 will take place on Sunday, June 26, 2022, from 6:15 pm until 7:45 pm and Poster Session 2 will take place on Monday, June 27, 2022, from 6:00 pm until 7:30 pm. Poster presenters will have the option to also present their poster in one of the two Pre-Meeting Virtual Poster Showcases before the start of the meeting. The showcases will be held from 9:00 am until 10:30 am on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, and Wednesday, June 22, 2022, and are open to all Annual Meeting attendees.

Special Events

Poster Sessions

Attendees present their abstracts during the poster sessions of the meeting. The poster sessions provide a relaxed atmosphere to interact with both trainees and established scientists while viewing the latest birth defects research. Poster Session 1 will take place on Sunday, June 26, 2022, from 6:15 pm until 7:45 pm and Poster Session 2 will take place on Monday, June 27, 2022, from 6:00 pm until 7:30 pm. Poster presenters will have the option to also present their poster in one of the two Pre-Meeting Virtual Poster Showcases before the start of the meeting. The showcases will be held from 9:00 am until 10:30 am on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, and Wednesday, June 22, 2022, and are open to all Annual Meeting attendees.

Warkany Tea

This event honors Josef Warkany, one of the founders of the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention and one of the first researchers to show that factors in the environment could cause birth defects. Dr. Warkany helped to develop guidelines for the field of teratology, the study of birth defects. The Warkany Tea provides and place and time for Annual Meeting attendees to network and discuss their research, the foundation of the Society. The Warkany Tea will take place on Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Student Career Event

Take advantage of this great networking opportunity. Join the Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention for dinner, conversation, and networking at the Student and Postdoctoral Fellows Career Event on the evening of Sunday, June 26. As you prepare for the next phase in your professional career, we offer you this opportunity to meet your fellow students and postdoctoral fellows and to interact with scientists from academia, government, and industry. This is also an opportunity for you to discuss your future and the various career paths available to you.

Closing Celebration

Separate registration is required for the Closing Celebration.
Once the scientific sessions have ended, it is time to celebrate the exchange of scientific ideas and enjoy both new and old friendships formed at the Annual Meeting. Please note that you must purchase a Closing Celebration Ticket for each person planning to attend this event, including yourself and any guests or family members that will accompany you. If you are unsure about your travel plans, you can add these tickets to your registration up until June 15.