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October 23, 2015
Vol. LXVII, No. 22

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Sulik To Deliver NIAAA’s Keller Lecture, Nov. 5

Dr. Kathleen Sulik

Dr. Kathleen Sulik will deliver the 2015 Mark Keller Honorary Lecture on Thursday, Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. The title of her talk is “Embryos and Ethanol: Basic Research to Prevention.” She is an internationally recognized embryologist and teratologist whose work has greatly advanced our understanding of prenatal development and alcohol-induced birth defects.

Currently, Sulik is professor of cell biology and physiology and head of developmental toxicology at the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Sulik has made many significant contributions to the fetal alcohol research field. Her early seminal work on a mouse model for fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) established that alcohol induces facial abnormalities during early gestation, indicating that alcohol may affect the human embryo even before a woman recognizes that she is pregnant. This study, published in Science in 1981, critically informed the development of current medical guidelines advising women to abstain from alcohol consumption during all stages of pregnancy.

Research in Sulik’s laboratory has continued with seminal work defining alcohol’s teratogenic mechanisms and associated pathogenesis, work which has clarified how alcohol interferes with prenatal development and causes birth defects. She and her team have shown that the type and severity of alcoholrelated birth defects are dependent upon exposure pattern and dosage, developmental stage at the time of exposure and genetic background, as well as environmental factors.

Sulik also is using state-of-the-art imaging for improving diagnosis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Her current efforts, funded by NIAAA under the Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder consortium, employ sophisticated imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging, diffusion tensor imaging and dense surface modeling to understand how the facial abnormalities used to diagnose FAS may relate to specific deficits in the brain.

NIAAA established this honorary lecture series as a tribute to Keller, a pioneer in alcohol research. Honorees have made significant contributions to our understanding of alcohol’s effects and how we can prevent and treat alcohol problems.

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