Public Release: 

Physician receives lifetime achievement award

Boston University Medical Center

(Boston)--Michael Charness, MD, professor of neurology and associate dean of veterans affairs at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Chief of Staff of the VA Boston Health Care System has been selected by the Rosett Committee of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study Group (FASDSG) as the 2015 recipient of the Henry Rosett Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) field.

Each year, the FASDSG of the Research Society on Alcoholism honors a researcher who has made a substantial contribution to the field of alcohol-induced teratology or physiological abnormalities.

The Henry Rosett Award is a lifetime achievement award in the field of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Henry Rosett was a psychiatrist who established a fetal alcohol syndrome program at Boston City Hospital (now Boston Medical Center) and was a member of the BUSM faculty.

The FASDSG selected Charness for his substantial contributions to the understanding of the effect of developmental ethanol exposure on adhesion molecules, as well as his extensive and generous service to the FASD community.

Charness has been studying fetal alcohol syndrome for more than 20 years. He has made numerous scientific contributions on this topic and has published extensively in such high-impact journals as Science, PNAS, New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Cell Biology and Journal of Biological Chemistry.

An active participant in educational efforts to broaden public awareness about FASD, he has helped present a balanced view on the risks of moderate drinking during pregnancy through letters and comments published in the scientific literature, including most recently in Nature. His finding that low concentrations of ethanol disrupt a molecule that is critical to development has served as a touchstone in the public debate about the safety of moderate drinking during pregnancy.

As the scientific director of the Collaborative Initiative on FASD (CIFASD), Charness has encouraged the integration of research projects that span molecular studies to human trials. His experience as both a clinician and scientist has helped bridge discussions between basic researchers and clinicians.

The FASDSG has a membership of clinicians and researchers. The binding interests of its members are the desire to fully understand the etiology of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), identify the characteristics of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders at multiple levels, and devise ways to improve the lives of children, adolescents and adults with FAS and other alcohol-related disabilities.

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Contact: Gina DiGravio, 617-638-8480, ginad@bu.edu

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