The DBSVB supports basic, clinical, and translational research on normal and abnormal development relating to the causes and prevention of structural birth defects, as well as research training in relevant academic and medical areas.
Among the Branch's high-priority research areas is basic research, primarily using a variety of animal models, on elucidating the biochemical, molecular biologic, genetic, and cellular mechanisms of embryonic development.
The DBSVB supports both basic and translational aspects of structural birth defect research by supporting and fostering collaborations between: basic developmental biologists studying normal developmental mechanisms at all embryonic stages and the causes of birth defects in model organisms; biophysicists studying physical/biomechanical aspects of development; and clinicians studying the causes and intervention strategies of specific birth defects in humans.
The study of development is without a doubt foundational to the study of birth defects because they represent developmental defects or “inborn errors of morphogenesis.” Whether these perturbations are due to genetic changes, environmental insults, or a combination of both, understanding the underlying developmental mechanisms only will be achieved through multidisciplinary, collaborative efforts among developmental biologists, geneticists, teratologists, genetic epidemiologists, obstetricians, neonatologist, and pediatricians.
Birth defects are a major cause of infant mortality, and they contribute significantly to disabilities of infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Consequently, the DBSVB actively promotes the collaboration of basic and clinical scientists through the NICHD’s Birth Defects Initiative and encourages interactions between NIH Institutes with shared interests in birth defects research by fostering the formation of the Trans-NIH Structural Birth Defects Working Group.
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