Featured Presenters

Michael Charness

Dr. Charness is Professor of Neurology and Faculty Associate Dean at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Neurology and Associate Dean at Boston University School of Medicine. He was Chief of Neurology at the VA Boston Healthcare System from 1996 until 2003. Since 2003, he has served as Chief of Staff at the VA Boston Healthcare System, where he is responsible for clinical care, education, and research. Dr. Charness earned his B.Sc. in Psychology from McGill University and his M.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He served as resident in Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and resident and Chief Resident in Neurology and postdoctoral fellow in Neuroscience at UCSF.

Dr. Charness studies the effects of alcohol on the developing nervous system. He is scientific director of the Collaborative Initiative on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (CIFASD), an NIAAA-funded, international initiative to improve the diagnosis and treatment of FASD and chairs the external advisory board for the NIH-funded Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. He served as president of Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA), on the Board of Directors of ISBRA, and as a member of the National Advisory Council for NIAAA. He received the Frank Seixas Award from RSA, a MERIT Award from NIAAA, a lifetime achievement award from the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and the Henry Rosett Award from the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study Group of RSA.

Paul Connor

Dr. Paul Connor is a clinical and forensic neuropsychologist who is a licensed psychologist in the states of Washington and Oregon. He obtained a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Washington, majoring in psychology. Following this, he received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology with a specialization in neuropsychology from Brigham Young University and completed an internship at Henry Ford Health System, specializing in neuropsychology. He received post-doctoral training in neuropsychology and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) at the University of Washington. For over 13 years, he conducted research focusing on the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure as it pertains to neuropsychological and mental health functioning and the structural and functional brain anomalies often seen in these disorders. Dr. Connor has authored or co-authored nearly 20 peer reviewed manuscripts and 3 book chapters focusing on the neuropsychological, neuroimaging, and psychiatric implications of the long term effects of prenatal alcohol exposure into adolescence and adulthood. In addition, he has presented and consulted internationally about assessment and diagnosis of FASD. Dr. Connor continues to be a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences’ Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit (FADU) at the University of Washington. He is currently in private practice, conducting neuropsychological evaluations in clinical and forensic settings, utilizing a battery of tests that have been shown to be sensitive to the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure in over 30 years of research on this subject.

Stephen Greenspan

Stephen Greenspan, PhD has a doctorate in developmental psychology (U of Rochester) and a post-doctoral fellowship in developmental disabilities (UCLA). His work on social intelligence, gullibility and adaptive functioning has made him one of the most-cited scholars in the field of neurodevelopmental disorders . Much of his work over the years has been to point out the unfairness of excessive reliance on IQ and IQ cut-offs to define disorders whose most salient feature is a lack of social and practical judgment. This emphasis on a more holistic view of neurodevelopmental disorders, including FASD, has caused him to be in demand as an expert witness in homicide and other criminal cases and as an arbitrating expert in cases where individuals with FASD or other brain-based disorders are being unfairly denied services, typically because of IQ scores considered by bureaucracies to be too high. For his scholarly work he was awarded the Jacobson Award for Critical Thinking from the American Psychological Association, while for his advocacy work he was awarded the Dybwad Award for Humanitarianism from the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disability.

Kathryn Kelly

Kathryn Kelly is a co-founder, with Ann Streissguth, PhD and UW Law Professor Eric Schnapper, of the FASD Legal Issues Resource Center, a part of the Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit at the University of Washington. From the Center’s inception in 2001, Ms. Kelly has served as the Project Director. With a background in Juvenile/Criminal Justice, both as a State and Federal Probation and Parole Officer and as a Mitigation Specialist/Investigator for the Federal Public Defender’s Office representing Death row inmates seeking review of their capital sentences, Ms. Kelly came to understand the lack of access to justice experienced by those with FASD. In an effort to bring about awareness of this disability, she trains juvenile and criminal justice professionals and works, daily and worldwide, with parents, caregivers, service providers and attorneys on the cases of those living with FASD who are in trouble with the law.

Rebecca C. Martell

Of Indigenous ancestry, Ms. Martell is a member of Waterhen Lake First Nation. Certified in the field of addictions, Rebecca has utilized a traditional model of learning to facilitate First Nation wellness with families and communities in Canada and the United States for more than 40 years.

Introduced to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in 1975 by Dr. Jane Silvius – a child psychologist who became a treasured teacher, Rebecca continued her commitment in the area of FASD as Executive Director of the Alberta Indian Health Care Commission in the 1980s, as well as a Board Member with A Centre for Women/Edmonton and Excel Society in the 90s. In 2000, Ms. Martell was appointed to Health Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and participated as a member of the National Working Group: Reaching At-Risk & Previously Un-reached Populations with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

As a Clinical Associate with the Occupational Performance Analysis Unit, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Alberta (1996 to present), Ms. Martell is a sessional lecturer with post-secondary programs and collaborates on a variety of community-based projects that support families and communities living with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. These include Corrections to Community, a ten-year correctional program that transitioned Aboriginal female inmates affected with FASD to the community upon release, and the Women’s Health, Homelessness & Incarceration Project: A mixed method study on the impact of homelessness and incarceration on the health of women.

Svetlana Popova

Svetlana Popova is a Senior Scientist of the Social and Epidemiological Research Department at Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre. She is also Associate Professor of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Epidemiology Division and Factor Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. Dr. Popova’s research focuses on FASD, substance abuse and disease burden, and evidence-based policy development. Dr. Popova led the study on estimation of burden and economic cost of FASD in Canada, supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Currently, she is a leading investigator of a large multi-country international study on estimating prevalence FASD guided by the WHO and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Dr. Popova is also collaborating on the WHO Global Burden of Disease studies on alcohol consumption as a risk factor for burden of disease.

Moira Plant

Dr Moira Plant is Emeritus Professor of Alcohol Studies at the University of West of England in Bristol UK and Adjunct Professor at Curtin University Perth Australia. Her areas of interest include women and alcohol, drinking in pregnancy and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. Moira has acted as advisor on these areas to the UK and other governments as well as the WHO and the EU. She is a psychotherapist and trains and supervises counsellors.

Deborah M Sloboda

Dr Sloboda holds a Canada Research Chair in Perinatal Programming and is an Associate Professor in the Dept of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University. She completed her PhD training at the University of Toronto, Dept of Physiology following which she was a Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia. In 2006 she was recruited to the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland in New Zealand where in 2008 she was the Deputy Director of the National Research Centre for Growth and Development at the University of Auckland. In 2009 she held the position of Acting Director of the Centre for one year.

Dr Sloboda is the Secretary of the International Society for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) and is an Associate Editor for the Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. Dr Sloboda has published over 80 papers in leading scientific journals and contributed to 12 books on the concept of Early life origins of health and disease. In 2015, Dr Sloboda won the Nick Hales Award for her outstanding contribution to research to the field of Developmental programming, from the International Society of DOHaD.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

Hon. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond is B.C.’s first Representative for Children and Youth. She is a judge on leave from the Saskatchewan Provincial Court. She worked as a criminal law judge in youth and adult courts with an emphasis on developing partnerships to better serve the needs of young people in the justice system, particularly sexually exploited children and youth, as well as children and youth with disabilities, such as those who suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

She taught law at Dalhousie University Faculty of Law, the University of Toronto, the University of Notre Dame and other universities. She holds a PhD from Harvard Law School, an MA in international law from Cambridge University, and a law degree from Osgoode Hall. She also holds a certificate in the international and comparative law of human rights from the University of Strasbourg in France.

Ms. Turpel-Lafond has received several awards and honourary degrees recognizing the leadership and outstanding commitment she has provided to her work as a champion for the voices and rights of Aboriginal people, children and youth, as well as her advocacy on their behalf and her commitment to their well-being. In 2007, the Indigenous Bar Association awarded her the distinction of ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Counsel’.

A member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, Ms. Turpel-Lafond is actively involved in supporting First Nations children, families and communities and has served as legal counsel and advocate in many cases involving the unique rights and freedoms of Aboriginal children, families and communities. She lives with her husband, son and three daughters in Victoria.

Joanne Weinberg

Dr. Joanne Weinberg is a Professor and Distinguished University Scholar, Emerita, in the Department of Cellular & Physiological Sciences at the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine. She has associate appointments in the Department of Psychology and the Child and Family Research Institute at Children’s Hospital. The research in Dr. Weinberg’s laboratory utilizes animal models to investigate the effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol and early life stress on brain and biological development, with a particular focus on the stress and immune systems, and later life vulnerability to diseases or disorders.

Steven L. Youngentob

Dr. Youngentob currently serves as the Sr. Assoc. Vice Chancellor for Research and Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology and of Psychiatry, having recently moved to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.  Previously, he was a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the State University of New York, Upstate Medical University.  During his tenure at Upstate, Dr. Youngentob also served as the Associate Dean for Basic Research and Graduate Studies, and as co-director of SUNY Upstate’s Physician Scientist Training Program.  Dr. Youngentob continues to maintain an active research program through funding from the NIH. The focus of his lab’s current research is on the relationship between fetal alcohol exposure and the increased probability for adolescent alcohol abuse. The lab’s working hypothesis has been that prenatal exposure induces developmental changes in one or more of the neural systems involved in the preference for alcohol odor and the perception and acceptability of alcohol’s flavor. This, in turn, contributes to the risk of initial ingestion and continued adolescent abuse.