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Randall To Give Keller Lecture, Nov. 16

Historical writings suggest that the dangers of alcohol use during pregnancy have been suspected for centuries, but only in the past 30 years have scientists proven the connection between fetal exposure to alcohol and birth defects. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), the term used to refer to a set of birth defects caused by maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, is now considered the most common nonhereditary cause of mental retardation. One of the pioneers in the FAS field, Dr. Carrie Randall, will deliver the Mark Keller Honorary Lecture on Thursday, Nov. 16 at 1:30 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10.

Entitled "Alcohol and Pregnancy: Highlights from Three Decades of Research," Randall's lecture will give an overview of the history of FAS in the United States and the development in the mid-1970's of animal models, including her own, characterizing alcohol as a teratogen. Since identifying the underlying mechanisms of action of alcohol on the developing embryo is critical if therapeutic interventions or preventive strategies are to be devised, she will also discuss relevant advances in this area, including some of her own pioneering work.

Randall is a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the department of physiology and neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina. She is an internationally recognized scientist, credited with having been a major contributor to the research that demonstrated in animal models that alcohol is a teratogen. Her research efforts teased apart maternal and paternal contributions and demonstrated dose-related consequences in the absence of confounding nutritional factors. Her work on prostaglandin synthesis inhibitors to prevent alcohol-related malformations was the first to demonstrate that a pharmacologic intervention can have an effect on the teratogenicity of alcohol. The impact of this work can be measured not only in terms of its contribution to scientific understanding of the mechanisms of FAS, but, as important, its influence on public health policy related to alcohol use during pregnancy.

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