Our History

Timeline & Milestones

The Center for Better Beginnings is a division in the Department of Pediatrics at UC San Diego and has been providing clinical, research, and educational services for over four decades. The Center organizes all of the university’s efforts related birth defects caused by things found in a woman’s environment. We are guided by the belief that all moms-to-be deserve the healthiest and safest pregnancy possible and all babies deserve a healthy start in life. Our goal is to identify exposures that can jeopardize mom and baby’s health, and eliminate or reduce that risk.

Here are some milestones we’ve experienced throughout the years:

  • 1960's
  • 1960

    UCSD Established

    University of California, San Diego is officially established on November 18th
  • 1962

    Thalidomide Banned World-Wide

    Thalidomide, used widely in the late 1950s and early 1960s for the treatment of nausea in pregnant women, is banned world-wide after it’s determined to be the cause of limb defects, congenital heart disease, malformations of the inner and outer ear, and ocular abnormalities.
  • 1969

    UCSD Dept. of Pediatrics Established

    The Department of Pediatrics is established at UC San Diego.
  • 1970's
  • 1970

    Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation

    Dr. David W. Smith, Dr. Jones’ mentor at the University of Washington, publishes the 1st edition of the book, Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation, which quickly becomes the reference used by healthcare professionals to diagnosis and manage individuals with birth defects and genetic conditions.
  • 1971

    FDA: Stop Prescribing DES in Pregnancy

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises physicians to stop prescribing DES to pregnant women because it was linked to a rare vaginal cancer in female children born to women who took the medication during pregnancy.
  • 1972

    Dr. Jones Begins 2-Year Fellowship Under Dr. Smith

    Dr. Jones begins a 2-year fellowship in Dysmorphology at the University of Washington, under the mentorship of Dr. David W. Smith (pictured above).
  • 1973

    Dr. Jones Coins Term “Fetal Alcohol Syndrome”

    Dr. Jones coins the term “fetal alcohol syndrome” as he and Dr. David W. Smith first identify FAS in the United States while at the University of Washington.
  • 1973

    Dr. Jones & Dr. Smith Publish First Scientific FAS Article

    Dr. Jones and his mentor, Dr. David W. Smith, publish the first scientific article to identify fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) in the British journal, Lancet, describing the cluster of birth defects seen exclusively in the babies of women who used alcohol during pregnancy.
  • 1974

    Dr. Jones Joins UCSD

    Dr. Jones takes a position with the UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics.
  • 1974

    UCSD Division of Dysmorphology Established

    The Division of Dysmorphology is established at UC San Diego, with Dr. Jones as chair.
  • 1977

    “Buzz” Chernoff Proves FAS Exists

    Gerald F. “Buzz” Chernoff (pictured at right, with Dr. Jones) performs an experiment on mice and proves the association between alcohol consumption and the pattern of malformations seen in fetal alcohol syndrome.
  • 1978

    Dr. Jones Establishes California Teratogen Information Service

    Dr. Jones establishes the California Teratogen Information Service, the earliest beginnings of what would eventually become the MotherToBaby service of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS).
  • 1980's
  • 1980

    1st Annual David Smith Workshop

    The 1st Annual David Smith Workshop is held in La Jolla, California – a forum to discuss findings in human malformations and morphogenesis. This was the only workshop Dr. Smith attended before he passed away six months later.
  • 1981

    Dr. Jones receives the Distinguished ARC Research Award

    Dr. Jones receives the Distinguished Research Award for Basic Research Endeavors toward the Prevention of Mental Retardation from the Association for Retarded Citizens, now known as The ARC.
  • 1982

    Dr. Jones Assists With 3rd Editon of Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation

    Dr. Jones assists with the 3rd edition of the book, “Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation, following the death of his friend and mentor Dr. David W. Smith (pictured above) in 1981.
  • 1982

    Dr. Jones Receives in Excellence in Community Service Award

    Dr. Jones receives an Excellence in Community Service Award from UC San Diego.
  • 1982

    Valproic Acid And Sodium Valproate Considered Teratogens

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announces that valproic acid and sodium valproate, medications used to treat epilepsy, should be considered human teratogens, as evidence emerged linking their use in pregnancy to an increased risk of spina bifida in an infant.
  • 1984

    CDC Publishes Report on Accutane as Human Teratogen

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publish the first report identifying the acne drug isotretinoin (Accutane) as a cause of miscarriage and a specific pattern of birth defects of the brain, head and face, and heart.
  • 1988

    Dr. Jones Publishes Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation 4th ed.

    Dr. Jones publishes the 4th edition of the book, “Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation”.
  • 1989

    Dr. Jones Meets with Smith’s Medical Fellows

    Dr. Jones (top right) meets with Dr. David Smith’s original medical fellows in Madrid, Spain.
  • 1990's
  • 1995

    Dr. Jones Receives Clair Burgener Foundation Award

    Dr. Jones receives the Clair Burgener Foundation Service Award.
  • 1995

    Dr. Jones Receives Joseph St. Geme Award

    Dr. Jones (4th from left) receives the Joseph St. Geme Award for Education from the Western Society of Pediatric Research. Dr. Jones is pictured with future Center for Better Beginnings co-director Dr. Christina Chambers (2nd from left), as well as staff who remain with the Center today: Robert Felix, Kathie Johnson, and Kelly Kao (1st, 5th, and 7th from left respectively).
  • 1996

    Dr. del Campo Begins 3-Year Fellowship

    Future Center for Better Beginnings faculty member Dr. Miguel del Campo Casanelles (pictured at left with Dr. Jones) comes to UC San Diego to begin his 3-year fellowship training in Genetics and Dysmorphology, under the mentorship of Dr. Jones.
  • 1997

    Dr. Jones Publishes Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation 5th ed.

    Dr. Jones publishes the 5th edition of the book, Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation.
  • 1998

    A Center for Pregnancy Research is Established

    The OTIS Collaborative Research Center is established in UCSD’s Division of Dysmorphology & Teratology to systematically study the safety of medications and vaccines when used in pregnancy. The program will later be known as MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies.
  • 1998

    Dr. Jones Recognized – “The Best Doctors in America”

    Dr. Jones recognized as one of “The Best Doctors in America.”
  • 1999

    CA Legislature Approves Birth Defects Prevention Week

    September 19th, 1999 is resolved to be California Teratogen Information Service-Birth Defects Prevention Week by the California Legislature and the San Diego City Council. This recognizes more than twenty years of service by Dr. Jones via the California Teratogen Information Service he established in 1978.
  • 1999

    Dr. del Campo Receives David W. Smith Pediatric Trainee Research Award

    Dr. del Campo receives the David W. Smith Pediatric Trainee Research Award from the Western Society for Pediatric Research.
  • 2000's
  • 2000

    California Teratogen Information Service Begins Marketing Services

    The California Teratogen Information Service (later known as MotherToBaby California) begins marketing services directly to pregnant women and their families as a result of an appropriation received from the State of California.
  • 2001

    UCSD Department of Pediatrics Partners with Rady Children’s Hospital

    UC San Diego’s Department of Pediatrics forms an affiliation with Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego.
  • 2001

    California Teratogen Information Service Receives Congressional Recognition

    California Teratogen Information Service receives a Certificate of Congressional Recognition on behalf of Lucille Roybal-Alllard, Member of Congress for the 33rd Congressional District.
  • 2002

    Dr. Chambers Joins UCSD Department of Pediatrics

    Dr. Chambers (front row, 3rd from right) takes a position with the UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics in the Division of Dysmorphology and Teratology.
  • 2002

    Dr. Jones Recognized (Again) – Americas Top Doctors

    Dr. Jones again recognized in the field of Pediatrics in America’ Top Doctors.
  • 2004

    Dr. Chambers Begins Two-year Term as President of OTIS

    Dr. Chambers begins a two-year term as President of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS).
  • 2004

    Dr. Jones Receives Josef Warkany Lecturer Award

    Dr. Jones receives the Josef Warkany Lecturer Award from the Teratology Society.
  • 2004

    Dr. Jones Receives Henry Rosett Award

    Dr. Jones receives the Henry Rosett Award from the Research Society on Alcoholism.
  • 2004

    Dr. Jones Receives Bock Prize and Lectureship in Developmental Biology and Genetics

    Dr. Jones receives the Bock Prize and Lectureship in Developmental Biology and Genetics from the Department of Pediatrics, Jefferson Medical College and the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children of the Nemours Foundation.
  • 2004

    Dr. Jones Serves as President of the Teratology Society

    Dr. Jones (back row, 2nd from right) serves as President of the Teratology Society.
  • 2005

    The County of San Diego proclaims September 9th, 2005 FASD Awareness Day

    The County of San Diego proclaims September 9th, 2005 Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Awareness Day, commending the Southern California Affiliate of the National Organization of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (SoCal NOFAS).
  • 2005

    NoFAS Honors Dr. Jones with Leadership Award

    The National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NoFAS) honors Dr. Jones with their Leadership Award in recognition of his long standing contributions to the field of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
  • 2006

    Dr. Chambers Receives F. Clarke Fraser Award

    Dr. Chambers receives the F. Clarke Fraser New Investigator Award from the Teratology Society.
  • 2006

    Dr. Jones Publishes Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation 6th ed.

    Dr. Jones publishes the 6th edition of the book, “Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation”.
  • 2006

    Dr. Chambers Lands the Front Page of The San Diego Union-Tribune

    Dr. Chambers lands the front page of The San Diego Union-Tribune after publishing a study examining selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in pregnancy, and linking use of the medications to an increased risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).
  • 2007

    Dr. Jones Receives Colonel Harland Sanders Lifetime Achievement Award

    Dr. Jones receives the Colonel Harland Sanders Lifetime Achievement Award in Genetics from the March of Dimes.
  • 2007

    Dr. Jones Awarded Class Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award

    Dr. Jones is awarded the Class Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award which provides a 3-year grant at $100K per year.
  • 2007

    Dr. Chambers Leads Coalition in Landmark 21-Year Study

    Dr. Chambers leads local coalition in landmark 21-year national study looking at genetic and environmental determinants of child health and development.
  • 2008

    Dr. Chambers – President of the Teratology Society

    Dr. Chambers serves as President of the Teratology Society.
  • 2009

    Dr. del Campo Creates First Telegenetics Consultation Service at UPF

    Dr. del Campo, a former trainee of Dr. Jones and future Center for Better Beginnings faculty member, creates the first Telegenetics consultation service and research program at Pompeu Fabra University in Spain.
  • 2009

    AAAAI & UCSD Launch VAMPSS

    A national surveillance system of the safety of drugs and vaccines when used in pregnancy launches; known as the Vaccines and Medications in Pregnancy Surveillance System (VAMPSS), the effort is led by the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) in collaboration with UCSD (Dr. Chambers) and Boston University.
  • 2009

    Dr. Chambers Receives WWMB Award

    Dr. Chambers receives the 16th Annual Women Who Mean Business Award from the San Diego Business Journal.
  • 2010's - present
  • 2010

    Dr. Chambers Awarded 5-year Grant From HRSA’s Maternal Child Health Bureau

    Dr. Chambers is awarded a highly competitive 5-year grant from HRSA’s Maternal Child Health Bureau for “Leadership in Education in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics.”
  • 2010

    Dr. Chambers Awarded a 5-year Grant From NIAAA

    Dr. Chambers is awarded a 5-year grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to examine the prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in San Diego County.
  • 2011

    Dr. Jones Receives the Dr. David W. Smith Teaching Award

    Dr. Jones receives the Dr. David W. Smith Teaching Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics Section of Genetics and Birth Defects.
  • 2011

    Dr. Jones and Dr. Chambers Open the Center for the Promotion of Maternal Health and Infant Development

    Dr. Jones and Dr. Chambers open the Center for the Promotion of Maternal Health and Infant Development, the precursor to the Center for Better Beginnings.
  • 2012

    Dr. Chambers Named Director of Clinical Research at Rady’s

    Dr. Chambers is named the Director of Clinical Research at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.
  • 2012

    Dr. Jones Receives Excellence in Research Award From Rady’s

    Dr. Jones receives the Excellence in Research Award from Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.
  • 2012

    SoCal NOFAS is Re-organized and Located at UCSD

    SoCal NOFAS, originally named CalFAS, is re-organized and establishes a partnership with UCSD and Rady Children's Hospital (pictured L-R: Dr. Jones; Dr. Chambers; Peggy Combs-Way, SoCal NOFAS President, Julie Pollack, SoCal NOFAS Vice President; and Diana Simmes, SoCal NOFAS Secretary).
  • 2013

    Dr. Jones Receives Starfish Award

    Dr. Jones receives the Starfish Award at the 5th International Conference on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
  • 2013

    Dr. Chambers Publishes Results of H1N1 Vaccine Study

    In response to the H1N1 crisis, Dr. Chambers publishes results from a national study of the safety of the H1N1 vaccine, determining that there is no evidence for increased risk when used in pregnancy.
  • 2013

    CTIS & OTIS Collaborative Research Center Renamed

    The Center’s California Teratogen Information Services is re-named MotherToBaby California, while the OTIS Collaborative Research Center is re-named MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies.
  • 2013

    Dr. Jones Publishes Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation 7th ed.

    Dr. Jones and Dr. del Campo publish the 7th edition of the book, Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation.
  • 2013

    Dr. Jones Begins 2-year Term as President of OTIS

    Dr. Jones begins a two-year term as President of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS).
  • 2014

    IFASDD is Established

    The Institute for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Discovery (IFASDD) is established as a partnership between the Center & Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego.
  • 2014

    Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation 7th ed. Receives 1st Prize BMA Medical Book Awards

    The 7th edition of Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation, edited by Dr. Jones and Dr. del Campo, receives the BMA Medical Book Awards 1st Prize in Illustrated Book Category and Highly Commended in Pediatrics Category.
  • 2014

    Mommy’s Milk Human Milk Research Biorepository is Established

    Mommy’s Milk Human Milk Research Biorepository is established at the Center for Better Beginnings as a joint project between the Center, Rady Children’s Hospital and the UC San Diego Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI).
  • 2015

    The Center for Better Beginnings is Established

    The Center for Better Beginnings is officially established at UCSD and quickly becomes one of the foremost institutes for breakthrough research and education in maternal health and child development.
  • 2015

    Dr. Chambers Named Vice Chair of Clinical Research in Department of Pediatrics UCSD

    Dr. Chambers is named Vice Chair of Clinical Research in the Department of Pediatrics at UC San Diego.
  • 2015

    Dr. Chambers Named Director of the UCSD CTRI Center for Life Course Research

    Dr. Chambers is named Director of the UCSD CTRI Center for Life Course Research.
  • 2015

    Dr. Chambers Receives Rady’s Children’s Hospital San Diego Excellence in Research Award

    Dr. Chambers receives the Rady’s Children’s Hospital San Diego Excellence in Research Award.
  • 2015

    Dr. del Campo Joins the Center

    Dr. del Campo joins the Center for Better Beginnings.
  • 2015

    Dr. Jones Honored at the 2015 NOFAS International Gala

    Dr. Jones honored at the 2015 NOFAS International Gala, addressing leaders in Washington D.C.
  • 2016

    Dr. del Campo visits Brazil Providing Clinical Services Against Zika

    Dr. del Campo visits Brazil and neighboring countries affected by Zika virus, providing clinical services and assisting with global birth defects prevention.
  • 2016

    Dr. Chambers Receives Patricia Rodier Mid-Career Award

    Dr. Chambers receives the Patricia Rodier Mid-Career Award for Research and Mentoring, a joint award of the Teratology Society and the Developmental Neurotoxicology Society.
  • 2016

    The Center Hosts Zika Symposium Featuring Renowned Experts

    Center for Better Beginnings hosts Zika Virus Microcephaly: Risks, Mechanisms and Prevention symposium as a leader in the fight against Zika virus.
  • 2016

    1st Annual Nine Months Matter: Walkfest for Alcohol-Free Pregnancy

    1st annual Nine Months Matter: Walkfest for Alcohol-Free Pregnancy is held at Liberty Station in San Diego, CA with Dr. Jones, SoCal NOFAS, and the Rady Children's Hospital Auxiliary as key organizers.
  • Present