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Introduction to this issue of American Journal of Medical Genetics.

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American Journal of Medical Genetics Part C (Semin. Med. Genet.) 135C:1 (2005)
Introduction to This Issue of American Journal
of Medical Genetics
This is an introduction to this issue of ‘‘Seminars’’ which is an offshoot of the proceedings of the third International
Neural Tube Defects Symposium, held in 2003. This was an interdisciplinary meeting with the common emphasis
on neural tube defects research. ß 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
KEY WORDS: neural tube defect; conference
The stimulus for development of this
issue of Seminars is the wealth of
information that is being generated
regarding various aspects of neural tube
defects research, including embryology,
epidemiology, genetic causes, and environmental contributions to their etiology. The contributors to this issue are all
participants in the International Neural
Tube Defect Symposium, which convenes every other year.
The International Neural Tube
Defect Symposium has an interesting
history. The origin of this meeting was
based on discussions following a workshop done at the American Society of
Human Genetics in 1994, with the
workshop topic being current research
in neural tube defects. The consensus
following the workshop was that the
individuals involved in neural tube
defect research could benefit from a
conference so that collaborations and
exchange of ideas could expedite the
progress of research. The first meeting
occurred in 1999 and was held in
conjunction with the David W. Smith
Meeting on Malformations and Morphogenesis and took place in Schlangenbad, Germany. There were close
to 40 attendees at this meeting. The
second meeting had 70 attendees from
10 countries, and was held at Seabrook
Island, SC. The third meeting was also
held at Seabrook Island and had 70
participants, representing 10 countries,
as well. However, many of the attendees
of the third conference had not attended
the second conference, so much of the
material presented was new information. The meeting format is for individuals to present 15–20 min talks
followed by time for discussion. The
pre- and post-doctoral students that
attended were active participants and
had the opportunity to present their research at a special student session. A ‘‘best
student paper’’ award was given, and
Helga Toriello, Ph.D., is director of Genetics services at Spectrum Health. Her interests include
dysmorphology and syndrome delineation, neural tube defects, fetal alcohol syndrome, and
heaving lo.
Richard H. Finnell, Ph.D., is a Regents Professor and Director of the Institute of Biosciences and
Technology, Texas A&M University Health Science Center. Dr. Finnell’s research focuses on the
genetic regulation of environmentally-induced birth defects, particularly those that are responsive
to folic acid.
*Correspondence to: Helga V. Toriello, Genetics Services, Spectrum Health, 21 Michigan
St., Suite 465, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. E-mail:
DOI 10.1002/ajmg.c.30047
ß 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
included the opportunity to be included
in this issue [Doudney and Stanier, this
issue]. Students as well as established
scientists had the opportunity to interact, with new research endeavors and
international collaborations developed
as a result. Some of the topics covered included embryology, suspected teratogenic factors (e.g., maternal diabetes,
obesity), candidate genes, mouse models, epidemiology, and folate, both in
terms of NTD reduction with supplementation and mechanisms by which
folate exerts its protective effect. It is
becoming clear that such a format can be
a great forum for exchanging ideas and
developing ideas for research projects.
The important review topics were
chosen as the themes for the papers in
this issue.
Helga V. Toriello*
Richard Finnell
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