The meeting format is for individuals to present 15–20 minute talks followed by time for discussion. The pre- and post-doctoral students that attended were encouraged to be active participants and had the opportunity to present their research at a special student session. 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. There were no concurrent sessions and the presentations were arranged in such a manner that no significant blocks of time were dedicated to epidemiology talks or to developmental biology talks, with the goal in mind that the entire audience would remain and that most every participant would attend almost every lecture.
Conference Objectives and Target Audience
- Bring together established and new investigators, from a variety of research disciplines, with a shared interest in the causes, consequences and prevention of NTDs,
- Provide a forum for NTD researchers to present their research findings,
- Foster the development of multidisciplinary collaborations, and
- Offer trainees an opportunity to learn about the opportunities in the field of NTD research.
Background of Organization
The International Conference on Neural Tube Defects (NTDs) has an interesting history that speaks to the ground-up nature of the scientific and clinical involvement that has driven the meeting from day one. The origin of this meeting was based on informal discussions following a workshop conducted at the American Society of Human Genetics annual meeting in 1994, with the workshop topic being current research on NTDs. The consensus following the workshop was that the individuals involved in NTD research could benefit from a stand-alone conference dedicated to this topic, so that collaborations and a free exchange of ideas could expedite the progress of research.