Allen A. Mitchell, MD, a professor of public health (epidemiology) and professor of pediatrics at the Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine, recently received the Godfrey P. Oakley, Jr., Award at the annual meeting of the National Birth Defects Prevention Network. Mitchell, who is also the director of Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center (SEC), was recognized for his significant lifetime contributions to the field of birth defects.
Mitchell's interest in birth defects began as an undergraduate student and continued during his pediatric training. In 1967 he began work at the Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program where he developed his focus on drug epidemiology (now called pharmacoepidemiology); among other activities, he worked on the analysis of Collaborative Perinatal Project data on birth defects and drugs in pregnancy.
In 1975 he joined the newly-created Drug Epidemiology Unit (now SEC) at Boston University, where following his interest in both pharmacoepidemiology and birth defects, Mitchell in 1975 applied the concept of case-control surveillance to the study of medications that may cause birth defects, and initiated the SEC Birth Defects Study (BDS) which continues to this time, having collected data on prenatal exposures for more than 40,000 malformed infants (and non-malformed infants) identified at multiple hospitals in the regions surrounding Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, San Diego and most recently Nashville, as well as through birth defects registries in Massachusetts and New York state.