Plenaries & Gallagher Lecture


Our Plenaries and Gallagher Lecture are open to all meeting attendees. Learn more about each of these outstanding sessions by clicking on the name of the lecture:


Plenary I

Title TBD
Wednesday, March 10, 2021 - 9:30 - 10:30 a.m. ET

Ruth Etzel, MD, PhD
Professional Lecturer
The George Washington University, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health

About the Speaker: Dr. Ruth Etzel is a Professorial Lecturer in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health.

Dr. Etzel has a broad background in public health, with specific training and expertise in pediatrics, preventive medicine, and children's environmental health. From 2009 to 2012 she served as the Senior Officer for Environmental Health Research in the Department of Public Health and Environment at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Previously, as a Commissioned Officer in the US Public Health Service, Dr. Etzel served in numerous public-sector leadership positions including: US CDC (Founding Chief of the Air Pollution and Respiratory Health Branch), US Department of Agriculture (Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Risk Assessment) and US Indian Health Service (Research Director at the Alaska Native Medical Center). Dr. Etzel was a member of the US National Institutes of Health's First Expert Panel on the Management of Asthma and the US Department of Defense Science Board Task Force on Gulf War Heath Effects.

Dr. Etzel is the founding editor of Pediatric Environmental Health (a 3rd edition of the book was published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011). This influential book has helped to train hundreds of doctors who care for children about how to recognize, diagnose, treat and prevent illness in children from hazards in the environment. For more than 20 years she has worked with international organizations to educate health professionals about environmental health and to build their capacity to conduct environmental investigations.

2021 Gallagher Lecture/Plenary II

Reproductive Rights as Human Rights: An update from the frontlines in the global and U.S. legal fight to protect and expand access to abortion and reproductive health 
Thursday, March 11, 2021 - 9:30 - 10:30 a.m. ET

Lourdes A. Rivera, JD
Senior Vice President, U.S. Programs
Center for Reproductive Rights


Globally, reproductive rights increasingly are being recognized as fundamental human rights, requiring governments to respect and protect women’s health and bodily autonomy.  Additionally, under human rights norms, governments are required to remove existing policy and structural barriers that prevent patients’ effective access to abortion.  In contrast, we are experiencing relentless attacks in the United States with the intent to eliminate abortion access. For example, since 2010, U.S. states have adopted over 450 restrictive laws burdening the ability of doctors and clinics to provide abortion services and the ability of patients to access timely and dignified abortion care.  In a case brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court in 2016 struck down Texas abortion laws that were meant to shut down clinics. Just four years later, the Center is back at the Supreme Court challenging an identical, unconstitutional law being defended by the state of Louisiana. In the current case, June Medical Services v. Gee, Louisiana politicians hope to convince the Court to overturn close to 50 years of precedent to undermine the right to abortion. Oral argument will take place at the Supreme Court on March 4th, -- days before the SAHM Annual Meeting.  A decision by the Court is expected by the end of June and will be pivotal for the right and access to abortion and for the ability to make decisions about one’s reproductive health.

In this session, Lourdes Rivera, Senior Vice President of U.S. Programs at the Center for Reproductive Rights, will discuss the current state of the U.S. domestic and international abortion and reproductive rights landscape. She will draw on the Center’s comprehensive state-by-state research report, What if Roe Fell? and the Center’s World Abortion Map. Lourdes will provide an update of the Supreme Court challenge; highlight the impact on adolescents and young people; and discuss ways in which we move forward to ensure the reproductive rights of all in the United States and around the world. In addition to the work in the U.S., the Center for Reproductive Rights is the only global legal advocacy organization dedicated to reproductive rights and regularly works within the UN Human Rights system to advance reproductive health and rights around the world. 

At the conclusion of this session, participants will gain knowledge of:

  1. Reproductive rights, including abortion, as recognized fundamental human rights, and how an understanding of human rights strengthens our U.S. advocacy.
  2. The U.S. federal and state legal and policy reproductive rights landscape, including the impact on young people’s access.
  3. The latest update on the Supreme Court case, June Medical Services v. Gee, and how SAHM members can take action to support young people’s reproductive rights and access, including access to abortion. 

About the Speaker: Lourdes Rivera is the Senior Vice President, U.S. Programs, at the Center for Reproductive Rights.  Lourdes leads all of the Center’s U.S. work, including litigation, human rights advocacy, and state, federal, and foreign policy.
Lourdes is a leader in the fields of health law and policy, women’s rights, and sexual reproductive health and rights.  Prior to joining the Center in January 2017, Lourdes worked as a Program Officer and then Senior Program Officer at the Ford Foundation, where she managed U.S. and global grants for sexual and reproductive health and rights, using a social justice and human rights approach.  She has been a leader in developing women of color organizations in the field and is widely known for putting the concept of intersectionality into practice. Before joining the Ford Foundation in 2006, Lourdes was the Managing Attorney of the Los Angeles office of the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) and specialized in issues relating to Medicaid, managed care, and women’s and children’s health.  Previously, she worked in Washington D.C. as a Senior Associate with the Children’s Defense Fund, Health Division and as a Georgetown Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow with the National Women’s Law Center.

Lourdes is also a member of the Board of the Brush Foundation and of the National Health Law Program.  She is a co-founder and former chair of the Advisory Board of California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, a former co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Health Rights and Bioethics Committee of the Individual Rights and Responsibilities Section, and a former chair of the Board of the National Women’s Health Network.  She taught a graduate level course in Health and Human Rights at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, where she is an adjunct Professor. 

Lourdes has a J.D. from Yale Law School and a B.A. in Latin American Studies from Yale University.


Plenary III

The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study: Teen Brains. Today’s Science. Brighter Future
Friday, March 12, 2021 -  9:30 - 10:30 a.m. ET

Gayathri J. Dowling, Ph.D.
Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Project
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)


Adolescence is a time of dramatic physical, intellectual, social, and emotional changes as well as a period of continued brain development. Yet, there is much we have yet to learn about the factors that influence brain development and other outcomes. The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, having enrolled nearly 12,000 diverse youth from across the country starting at ages 9-10 and assessing them repeatedly for a decade, was designed to answer these questions. Youth participants undergo magnetic resonance imaging to assess brain structure and function, provide biospecimens for pubertal hormone, substance use, and genetic analyses, and take part in neurocognitive assessments. Both youth and their caregivers provide information about physical and mental health, culture and environment, and other factors that influence their lives. In 2020, the ABCD assessment battery was expanded to include monthly questionnaires about participants’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, which when combined with pre-pandemic data and longitudinal follow-up data, holds promise for understanding risk and resilience factors that may influence adolescent trajectories potentially altered by these unusual circumstances. Data from the ABCD study is released to the scientific community annually through the National Institute of Mental Health Data Archive, allowing scientists worldwide to conduct analyses, pool resources, and enrich the value of this study, with the ultimate goal of providing actionable information to help educators, health professionals and policymakers improve the lives of all children, today and for generations to come.

Learning Objectives:

  1. To appreciate the comprehensive nature of this longitudinal study, including the many different types of data being collected.
  2. To learn about emerging findings from the ABCD study and understand its potential value for understanding risk and resilience factors that influence adolescent development. 
  3. To understand the open science model and how it can facilitate the use of science to inform policy and practice.  

About the Speaker: Dr. Dowling is the Director of the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) Project at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The ABCD Study, the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States, has enrolled nearly 12,000 children ages 9-10 and is following them through their teens and into early adulthood to explore how diverse experiences during adolescence shape brain, cognitive, social, emotional, and academic development. Previously, Dr. Dowling served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Science Policy, Engagement, Education, and Communications at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the Chief of Science Policy at NIDA. In these positions, she provided scientifically-based information to patients and their family members, health professionals, researchers, policy makers, and other stakeholders to inform policy and promote the prevention and treatment of a wide variety of diseases. Dr. Dowling earned a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the University of California at Davis, where she studied the developing nervous system, and subsequently conducted research at the Parkinson’s Institute prior to joining NIH where she initially worked at the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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