Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Conference Gene Expression and Signaling in the Immune System Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory April 22-26, 2008 The proposed meeting series on Gene Expression and Signaling in the Immune System, to be held biennially in 2008, 2010 and 2012, will focus on the most recent advances in this rapidly moving field. The meeting will be open, with attendance limited only by the facilities available to a maximum of 450 participants. Oral presentations will be delivered by a combination of invited speakers and those selected from submitted abstracts. This ensures the participation of junior and senior leaders in the field and the presentation of the most exciting results emerging at the time of the meeting. The oral presentations will be complemented by poster presentations in two sessions, also selected from submitted abstracts. The areas to be covered in the 2008 meeting include 1) stem cells and early developmental decisions, 2) regulation of immune cell development, 3) chromatin structure and epigenetic regulation, 4) antigen receptor gene assembly and modification, 5) signal transduction in immune cells, 6) regulation of lymphocyte functions, and 7) innate immunity. Rather than focusing on one particular type of immune cell or process, the meeting will focus on mechanistic findings that most significantly and rigorously advance our knowledge of signal transduction and gene regulation circuitry within the immune system. The subsequent meetings will follow a similar format and will include topics that are highly relevant at the time of the meeting. Ample opportunity is provided for junior scientists to present their results, and also for the presentation of important, late-breaking findings. The meeting format also ensures time for interactions between scientists, particularly during meals and in poster sessions. The meeting will foster interaction among immunologists working in related areas, and provide a forum for the development of new ideas and approaches to immune system signaling and gene expression.
The immune system provides the body's major defense against both infectious diseases and cancer. It employs a wide variety of strategies including innate defenses, that recognize common features of microbes and distressed cells, and acquired immunity that depends on prior exposure to an infectious agent (the basis of vaccination). Weakness in these defense mechanisms may be inherited (as in severe combined immunodeficiency disease or bubble boy syndrome) or acquired (as in the case of AIDS or after cancer treatment). The immune system may also respond too aggressively, as in various forms of allergy, or may attack the body's own cells, as in autoimmune diseases. The cells of the immune system have to interpret a wide variety of molecular and chemical signals to orchestrate a complex pattern of events in response to a given challenge. How these signals are received, transmitted, and interpreted forms the scope of this important conference series. The series is notable not only because it attracts a unique subset of immunologists focused on genes and their mechanisms of action but because many of the talks are selected from openly submitted abstracts giving ample opportunity for broad and diverse representation of junior scientists including graduate students to present their latest research.