This proposal seeks support for the thirty-seventh in an annual series of meetings on "Retroviruses" to be held at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory that has emerged as the premiere conference for this field. The proposed meeting will assemble leaders in the field, junior faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students to discuss new, cutting-edge developments in the field of retrovirus biology. The meeting series is focused on the viruses and their interactions with host cells rather than the particular diseases they cause. The large majority of the work to be presented will be unpublished and subject to immediate comment and discussion by the audience. The 2012 meeting will be structured in a manner that parallels the biology of the viruses;beginning with the entry phase of the replication cycle, proceeding with post-entry events, including reverse transcription and integration, RNA-related events (transcription, processing, export, and packaging), particle assembly and release, pathogenesis/host factors, and concluding with antivirals and evolution. Selected speakers will include graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty. Each session will be chaired by two leading scientists in the field selected by the organizers from among the registrants. Two eminent invited speakers will give special lectures to inspire and inform young scientists and to stimulate discussion between scientists working on related but distinct areas. There will also be three poster sessions where a majority of participants can present their work. The meeting will be of moderate size, and we expect ~450 retrovirologists in attendance.
HIV/AIDS is now a major pandemic in human beings throughout the world. According to current estimates, HIV is set to infect 90 million people in Africa, resulting in a minimum estimate of 18 million orphans. Many conferences around the world address a plethora of issues related to the treatment of HIV/AIDS, but few do so by addressing the underlying biology of the virus, and even fewer do this by putting the molecular biology of the virus and its interaction with its human host in the broader context of how all retroviruses, irrespective of host, function and evolve. A key to the success of the Cold Spring Harbor annual retroviruses conference is that the majority of oral presentations are given by graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty chosen on the basis of scientific merit, ensuring that the conference showcases the latest developments which are often yet to be published. Participants come from academic centers, research institutes and industrial centers around the world to present and discuss their findings. Many of the currently important treatments for HIV/AIDS were first presented or proposed at this conference in past years. Importantly, this application requests support for junior scientists who might not otherwise be able to attend to actively participate in the meeting.