This proposal is a request for funding to support the travel expenses for young scientists to attend and participate in the 2012 International Meeting on the Molecular Biology of Hepatitis B Viruses, scheduled for Sept. 23 - 26, 2012 at the University of Oxford Examination Schools and Christ Church College, Oxford, UK. This meeting is the only forum that gathers the international community of researchers that focus on the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and the closely associated hepatitis delta virus (HDV). Approximately 25% of the world's population has been infected by HBV. Unfortunately, despite the availability of prophylactic vaccines, many new infections occur worldwide, mostly because of underutilization of the vaccine due to cost and other issues. Moreover, for the approximately 360 million people already chronically infected with HBV (approximately 15 million of whom are co-infected with HDV), the vaccine is of no therapeutic value. As a result, between 0.5 and 1 million people die of HBV/HDV every year worldwide. It is therefore imperative that basic research and the scientific exchange among those studying HBV/HDV continue, and the annual HBV meeting represents the venue at which this can occur. The 2012 meeting will uphold and enhance the traditional format and exchange with interaction and dialogue presented in 9 oral scientific sessions, 2 poster sessions as well as less structured "networking" time. A special focus of this meeting will be on virus-host interactions, with a particular emphasis on cell biology, antiviral immunity, and new therapeutic targets. This will be facilitated by three keynote addresses and a special workshop. As in the past, great effort has been made to minimize the cost of the meeting. Furthermore, the Hepatitis B Foundation has made a strong commitment to support this meeting since 2005, in terms of providing a permanent home for organizing the meeting and making its staff available for organizing the meeting and publicizing it, especially to universities with large numbers of underrepresented minorities. In order to allow the participation of junior and minority investigators, support from the NIH to help defray the meeting costs of junior scientists is requested.
Project Narrative The 2012 Molecular Biology of Hepatitis B Viruses Meeting is the next scheduled meeting in an annual series that has been held continuously since 1985. This is the only definitive meeting that brings together basic scientists in the field of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis D virus (HDV) from throughout the world. HBV continues to be a major global and US public health problem with more than 360 million individuals chronically infected worldwide and with an annual rate of up to one million deaths due to HBV and HBV/HDV-induced liver failure, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The meeting is a critical and internationally well recognized platform for continued exchange of information in basic research on HBV and HDV infections.