Academic Credentials
  • Ph.D., Anatomy and Teratology, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1975
  • B.A., Chemistry, Hamilton College, 1968
Academic Appointments
  • University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
    • Assistant Professor, Dept. of Anatomy and Cell Biology, 1975-1981
    • Adjunct Associate Professor, Dept. of Anatomy and Cell Biology, 1982-1985
    • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Dept. of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital Research Foundation, 1990-1996
  • Georgetown University Schools of Medicine and Dentistry
    • Adjunct Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology, 2006-2022
    • Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, 1983-2006
    The Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
    • Visiting Professor, Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, 1993-2010
    San Diego State University/Graduate School of Public Health
    • Adjunct Professor, Department of Toxicology, 1994-2010
    Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) Staff College, FDA
    • Faculty Member, 1996-1998
    George Mason University
    • Affiliate Professor, Department of Biology, 2002-2003
    • Adjunct Professor, Advanced Biomedical Sciences, 2011 - 2012
    University of North Texas Health Sciences Center
    • Adjunct Professor, School of Public Health, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, 2005-2008
    Teaching Awards
  • Golden Apple Award (Teacher of the Year), Georgetown University School of Medicine (5)
    • Awarded for efforts in Embryology and Gross Anatomy in 2005, 2006 (2), 2008, 2016
    Geza M. Illes Award for Outstanding Teaching in Gross Anatomy at Georgetown University - 2015
  • Bernards Township Education Association: Friend of Education Award" - 1997-1998
  • Medical College of Virginia School of Pharmacy - Teacher of the Year - 1974
Professional Honors
  • Fellow, Academy of Toxicological Sciences, 1999 (Recertified 2004, 2009, 2014, 2019)
  • Josef Warkany Award and Lectureship, 2018
  • - Awarded for career impact in the field of teratology by the Teratology Society
  • Edward W. Carney Distinguished Service Award, 2017
  • - Awarded for his exemplary dedication and service to the Teratology Society and the scientific discipline of teratology.
  • Narsingh Agnish Fellowship, 2014
  • - Awarded by the Teratology Society for significant contributions to improving basic science and applied research, service to the Society and commitment to teaching subsequent generations of scientists
  • Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology (FASEB) Distinguished Service (2)
  • - Board of Directors Member, 2006-2009
  • - Board of Directors Member, 1999-2004
  • Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA) Distinguished Service, 2008
  • - Core Member of the Voluntary Children's Chemical Evaluation Program (VCCEP)
  • Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Staff College Certificates of Appreciation (2)
  • - Committee for Advance Scientific Education, 1997
  • - Office of Training and Communications, 1998
Professional Affiliations
  • Elected Leadership Positions
  • President, Risk Assessment Specialty Section, Society of Toxicology 2013-2014
  • President, Middle Atlantic Reproductive and Teratology Association 2001-2002
  • President, Teratology Society 1994-1995
  • Memberships
  • Academy of Toxicological Sciences
  • American Association of Anatomists
  • American College of Toxicology
  • American Society for Cell Biology
  • American Society for Reproductive Medicine (formerly American Fertility Society)
  • Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology
  • International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics
  • Sigma Xi
  • Society for Birth Defects Research and Prevention (formerly Teratology Society)
  • Society for Risk Analysis
  • Society for the Study of Reproduction
  • Society of Toxicologic Pathology
  • Society of Toxicology
  • Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences

Dr. DeSesso has over 45 years of post-doctoral experience specializing in the areas of developmental and reproductive toxicology, general toxicology, risk assessment, and human health effects of environmental agents and pharmaceuticals. His research has included normal and abnormal development, with emphasis on the mechanisms by which chemical and physical agents influence developing organisms. 

Dr. DeSesso has an ongoing interest in determining the mechanism, location and timing of the transplacental transfer of various substances (including small molecules and biologics) in various species. He has worked on projects including the assessment for potential gestational exposures to various substances to cause developmental or neurobehavioral effects, determination of the possible teratogenicity of atrazine and glyphosate, and demonstration of the mode of teratogenic action for an artificial blood substitute that is absent in humans.

He is an adjunct professor of Biochemistry and Cellular & Molecular Biology at Georgetown University School of Medicine where he has taught embryology and anatomy for over 30 years. He has received 6 Teacher of the Year Awards (1 from the Medical College of Virginia School of Pharmacy; 5 from Georgetown University School of Medicine) and is the 2014 recipient of the Narsingh Agnish Fellowship from the Teratology Society, which recognizes contributions to education. He has been invited frequently to serve as the chairman of scientific sessions at national and international scientific meetings, especially those involving mechanisms or amelioration of developmental toxicity and human health risk assessment. He has published more than 100 papers and chapters and has presented at over 200 conferences and symposia. Two of his papers (in 2000 and 2009) have been recognized by the Risk Assessment Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology as Outstanding Published Papers Demonstrating an Application of Risk Assessment.

Dr. DeSesso's broad background in health science has been recognized in diverse scientific positions. Prior to joining Exponent, he held various positions at Noblis/Mitretek Systems, where he directed commercially and governmentally funded public interest research efforts on the potential adverse effects of environmental agents. Projects included assessing the potential for inorganic arsenic contamination to cause human birth defects, investigating the possible reproductive toxicity of a commonly used ingredient of consumer products, and assessing the possible teratogenicity of a novel ingredient used in veterinary medicine. He provided key expertise in human health risk assessment, including negotiation of risk assessment protocols on a site-specific basis. He wrote the Air Force approach to ecological risk and is a co-author of multiple in-depth hazard evaluations of the widely encountered environmental contaminant trichloroethylene that addressed its potential human carcinogenicity and its potential to cause adverse effects in developing babies. The published findings of these studies contribute to its ongoing regulatory re-evaluation.

During 15 years at The MITRE Corporation, he wrote health hazard assessments for the EPA Office of Toxic Substances in support of its Pre-Manufacturing Notification Program. For EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs, Dr. DeSesso analyzed toxicity data submitted for registration of pesticides. For the EPA Office of Health and Environmental Assessment, he wrote assessment documents concerning the carcinogenicity, toxicology, and reproductive effects of existing chemical substances. For the FDA, Dr. DeSesso led a team that assessed the relevance to human health of direct bladder exposure studies conducted in rodents. He was named to the EPA/ILSI National Work Group on Rodent Bladder Cancer, where he helped to establish rational and scientific approaches for applying rodent bladder cancer study results to human health risk assessment. He also served on a team that studied the health effects of refined menhaden oil during FDA's consideration of its generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status.

Dr. DeSesso is active in 13 scientific societies and was elected President of the Teratology Society (1994-1995), the Mid Atlantic Reproduction and Teratology Association (MARTA; 2001-2002), and the Risk Assessment Specialty Section of the Society of Toxicology (2015). He served as an Executive Board member of the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology (FASEB; 1999-2004; 2006-2009). He is a member of the editorial review board of Reproductive Toxicology. He is a frequent contributor to continuing education courses that deal with toxicology and risk assessment. He has provided public commentary regarding scientific issues before federal agencies, state legislatures, and congressional committees.