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National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Dr. Kathleen K. Sulik to deliver 20th Annual Mark Keller Honorary Lecture at the National Institutes of Health

News Release

WHAT:  The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, announces that Kathleen K. Sulik, Ph.D., will deliver the 20th Annual Mark Keller Honorary Lecture.  Dr. Sulik is an internationally recognized embryologist and teratologist whose work has greatly advanced our understanding of prenatal development and alcohol-induced birth defects.  


WHO:  Dr. Kathleen 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 at Chapel Hill.  Dr. 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.

Dr. Sulik’s seminal research has continued to focus on 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 alcohol-related birth defects are dependent upon exposure pattern and dosage, developmental stage at the time of exposure, and genetic background, as well as environmental factors. 

Today, Dr. Sulik is noted for her utilization of state-of-the-art imaging for improving diagnosis of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Her current efforts, which are funded by NIAAA under the Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (CIFASD) consortium, employ sophisticated imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and dense surface modeling (DSM) to understand how the facial abnormalities used to diagnose FAS may relate to specific deficits in the brain.


WHEN: Thursday, November 5, 2:00 p.m. EST


WHERE: Masur Auditorium, NIH Building 10, Bethesda, Md.

Background: NIAAA established the Mark Keller Honorary Lecture Series as a tribute to Mr.  Keller’s pioneering contributions to the field of alcohol research. Each fall, the series features a lecture by an outstanding alcohol researcher whose work makes significant and long-term contributions to our understanding of how alcohol affects the body and mind, how we can prevent and treat alcohol abuse and alcoholism, and how today's scientific advancements can provide hope for tomorrow. NIAAA is pleased to present this series of scientific lectures to acknowledge the advances researchers are making in a wide range of alcohol-related research, and to honor the memory of an individual whose pioneering research remains relevant today.

For additional information about the lecture see:

The Keller Honorary Lecture is free and open to the public. Sign language interpreters will be provided. For other reasonable accommodations or further information call Joanna Mayo, 301-443-3860, or visit For TTY callers, please call the above number through the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339.


About the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA):
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, is the primary U.S. agency for conducting and supporting research on the causes, consequences, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of alcohol use disorder. NIAAA also disseminates research findings to general, professional, and academic audiences. Additional alcohol research information and publications are available at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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