Program Highlights

Education Courses

Separate registration is required for the Education Courses.

Education Course 1

Special Sensory Systems: The Ear
Organized by the Education Committee

Development of the otic system starts with the formation of the ear canal soon after conception and is followed by the development of the outer ear by week 10 of gestation. This course will include an overview of normal and abnormal morphological development of the otic system; a review of available animal models of normal and disrupted otic development; an overview of the nonclinical assessment of ototoxicity from a regulatory drug development perspective; and a clinical perspective. This 3.5 hour course will take place the morning of Saturday, June 24, and may be added during registration.

Education Course 2

Gene Therapy
Organized by the Education Committee

Inherited and acquired mutations can cause developmental disorders, neurological diseases, or cancer. To address some of these defects, gene therapy has become a recognized field of study that holds promise for treating a wide range of diseases in adults, kids, and as early as in utero fetal defects. This course will cover the basics of gene editing and gene therapy techniques; nonclinical investigations that are used to understand the safety and effectiveness of the various techniques; and clinical applications of gene therapy with an emphasis on the pediatric population. This 3.5-hour course will take place on the afternoon of Saturday, June 24, and may be added during registration.

Lunch and Learn Mini Course

Ethical Issues and Novel Therapies
Organized by the Education Committee

In the field of reproduction, a wealth of ethical issues surrounds human reproduction and contraception. In this mini course, two experts will discuss current ethical and societal discussions taking place in the reproductive field in the age of artificial intelligence, robotics, MPS, and gene therapy. Topics will include the ethical and regulatory considerations of germline, pediatric, and reproductive gene editing technologies. This 1.75-hour lunch and learn mini course will take place on Tuesday, June 27, and may be added during registration.

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 the 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.

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.

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.

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.

Keynote Lecture

BDRP and European Teratology Society Exchange Lecture


The HEALthy Brain and Child Development Study Symposium
(Joint with DNTS)

This session will provide an overview of the goals and design of the HEALthy Brain and Child Development Study, a 25-site US longitudinal cohort study of child growth and development from prenatal life to age 10 years, with a special focus on risk and protective factors including the environment and substance use in pregnancy.

A Lifecourse Perspective on the Epidemiology of Congenital Heart Disease: Surveillance, Risk Factors, Outcomes, and Future Directions Symposium
(Joint with OTIS)

Congenital heart defects affect nearly 1% of births per year in the United States, with most persons with CHDs living into adulthood. This symposium is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of knowledge concerning the epidemiology of CHDs (prevalence, risk factors, treatment, survival), child outcomes (development, growth, education, co-occurring conditions), and lifespan issues (disability, reproductive health, activities of daily living, longevity) for persons living with CHDs.

Machine Learning Applications in Understanding Embryogenesis and the Mechanisms of Birth Defects Symposium
(Joint with DNTS and OTIS)

Machine learning and computational modeling have applications in understanding the embryogenesis and the morphological basis of birth defects. Transforming imaging data with calculation power and algorithms into sophisticated computation models is an emerging integrative discipline. Algorithms are created in machine learning to build a model based on a set of sample data. The model is then validated against experimental data for its accuracy and output. Computational models can be used to run simulations to understand the outcomes of perturbations in genetic pathways under study, generate a hypothesis to design a new experiment, identification of therapeutic targets, and so on. The close disciplines related to machine learning are bioinformatics, computational anatomy, computational modeling, and systems biology. All these disciplines act at the interface of mathematical, statistics, and data-analytical methods. The discipline of bioinformatics implies network analysis to analyze and understand -omics data including genome, transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome. Machine learning is the next step following computational models. This session is offered to present cutting-edge research in the discipline of machine learning and related applications. The research in these applications is of interest to trainees, postdocs, and researchers in a wide variety of disciplines such as Predictive Toxicology, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology.

Health Disparities within Communities of Color Symposium
(Joint with DNTS and OTIS)
Organized by the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workgroup

High-risk pregnancies and birth defects are often greater within communities of color. It is no coincidence these outcomes of infant and maternal mortality, preterm birth, and instances of increased developmental and physical defects are related to environmental exposures and access to adequate health care. Additionally, more frequently people of color (POC) and other groups who have been under-served, including refugees, are affected by historical inequality and unconscious bias. Compounding these disparities, research into these issues and efforts to address them are poorly funded. This symposium will provide an understanding of the experience of POC during pregnancy, illustrate the disparities that exist in reproductive health, and describe the need to address and prevent them.

Characterizing Developmental and Reproductive Hazards Using Rapid Review Tools Symposium

Systematic evidence maps, scoping reviews, and fit-for-purpose assessments are increasingly used by environmental health scientists as pioneering tools to characterize the health and toxicological effects of various environmental chemicals. These rapid review approaches and tools can address various research needs and goals related to chemical hazard identification while typically being less time- and resource-intensive compared to traditional systematic reviews. Furthermore, a rapid compilation of new information or updates to existing information is useful in a pre-decisional regulatory context and can help to identify data gaps. This symposium will explore how the assessment of developmental and reproductive hazards can be informed using these novel methods through a series of case examples. Each speaker will explore the use of tools and cutting-edge interactive visualization approaches to support the workflow and develop timely products that inform human health hazard evaluation of reproductive and developmental effects, chemical prioritization, chemical grouping methods, or other research needs.

COVID-19 and Pregnancy: An Update and Planning for the Future Symposium
(Joint with DNTS)
Organized by the Public Affairs Committee

Pregnancy has been associated with an increased risk of severe COVID-19 disease. Research data support a higher likelihood of intensive care unit admissions, invasive ventilation, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, and mortality among women who had symptomatic COVID-19 during pregnancy. The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) symposium aims to provide a current overview of COVID-19 infection in pregnancy focusing on surveillance and epidemiology of COVID-19 in pregnancy, health outcomes in pregnant persons and babies whose mothers had COVID-19 during pregnancy, and research on safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy. The impact of COVID-19 in early pregnancy on pregnancy losses and birth defects and methodological challenges in assessing risks associated with COVID-19 exposure will be discussed. Common biases in epidemiological research on COVID-19 will be presented. Maternal-fetal medicine experts will discuss important clinical implications of COVID-19 on pregnancy; ethics experts in vaccine research will discuss the importance of inclusion of pregnant persons in COVID-19 vaccine trials, and the perceptions of pregnant persons of the risks and benefits while deciding to participate in vaccine trials.

Applications of New Approach Methods in Developmental and Reproductive Toxicology Symposium
(Joint with DNTS)

This session aims to bring together experts in the field of developmental and reproductive toxicology (DART) for an extensive exchange of knowledge, the definition of the current situation, and the identification of shortcomings and gaps in this field. DART is one of the large systemic toxicity areas not yet covered by accepted animal-free methods, remaining one of the most animal-intensive areas of regulatory toxicology, and thus most challenging for the development of alternative approaches to animal testing. There are promising potential solutions for other large topical and systemic toxicities, e.g., sensitization and mutagenicity, but there is a large unmet need for DART. The complexity of systemic toxicity of reproduction and the developing organism over the whole reproductive cycle requiring repeated exposure to substances cannot be addressed with just one test.

Immune Responses during Development and Multi-System Inflammatory Disease in Children Symposium

This session will focus on advances in our understanding of the biological mechanisms of immune responses during development and how these mechanisms may lead to multi-system inflammatory syndrome, long COVID, and dermatological manifestations in children. This area of research is of significant interest based on recent research in immune system development, such as the role of T cell responses. Advances in the understanding of the etiology of multi-system inflammatory syndrome and differential manifestations of COVID-19 in children are timely for BDRP members focused on clinical, epidemiological, and mechanistic research and applications.



Organized by the Student Affairs Committee
The Grant Development Workshop is designed for beginning and experienced grant writers and will provide advice and techniques on how to write a successful grant proposal. Specific topics include identifying appropriate funding sources, navigating the grant submission process, and improving persuasive writing skills. Attendees will learn about the typical questions funders ask when considering a grant proposal and the criteria used. The workshop will include mentors with experience with the grantsmanship process as well as grant reviewers from various funding sources including the NIH, March of Dimes, and Burroughs Wellcome Fund. This workshop is organized by the Student Affairs Committee. Attendees of all career stages are encouraged to participate. Separate registration is required to attend this workshop. Trainees may register at no additional charge, and other attendees pay a nominal fee. This workshop will take place on Monday, June 26.

Multidisciplinary Research Needs Workshop

The Multidisciplinary Research Needs Workshop provides a forum for informal discussion on current and emerging topics in birth defects research to facilitate collaboration and identify ways that BDRP might contribute to progressing these topics. Breakout topics were selected based on a member survey. Representatives from March of Dimes and NICHD will also provide a brief summary of research priorities and funding opportunities. Topics selected for breakout discussion during the workshop are: 1. Maternal/fetal health in the wake of the Dobbs decision; 2. New Approach Methods (NAMs) in developmental and reproductive biology and toxicology; and 3. Making the most of our animal studies. Annual Meeting attendees at all career stages are strongly encouraged to participate in this workshop. No additional ticket or registration is required.

Platforms and Posters


Organized by the Student Affairs Committee

Special platform session on Sunday, June 23, 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 23. 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 25, from 6:00 pm until 7:30 pm; Poster Session 2 will take place on Monday, June 26, 2023, from 5:30 pm until 7:00 pm; and Poster Session 3 will take place on Tuesday, June 27, from 6:30 pm until 8:00 pm.

Special Events

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 28.

Student Career Event

The Student and Postdoctoral Fellows Career Event is a great networking opportunity that will take place on the evening of Sunday, June 26. This event is open to all trainee attendees of the BDRP, DNTS, and OTIS annual meetings. 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 while enjoying drinks and dessert. 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.