This proposal requests partial support for the Gordon Research Conference on Cellular and Molecular Fungal Biology to be held at the Holderness School, June 17-22, 2012. The broad and long-term goal of the conference is to spread information about fungal biology among researchers to increase our collective understanding of basic fungal biology and its application to socially important problems. Fungi are excellent eukaryotic model organisms, so much of the conference will be central to the aims of NIH-National Institute of General Medical Science. Furthermore, fungi cause significant human disease, so much of the research presented will also address the interests of the NIH-National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
The specific aim of this meeting will be to convene 52 speakers who represent the leading edge of fungal research with a total of ca. 130-140 participants, most of whom will present posters, for a five-day conference in a setting with few distractions. The oral and poster sessions are designed to emphasize discussion and networking, and evaluations from past conferences demonstrate the effectiveness of this format. The 2012 meeting will combine both newer and core topics to this conference such as systems biology, population and evolutionary genomics, pathogenesis, symbiosis, cell biology and gene expression including RNA control. The significance of this application is the demonstrated effect of this conference in accelerating research in the international fungal biology community, including prevention and treatment of disease. The health relatedness of this application centers on the role of fungi in human disease, including three of the most important diseases of transplant patients, candidiasis, cryptococcosis and aspergillosis, as well as systemic fungal diseases such as histoplasmosis.
Project Narrative: The health relatedness of this application concerns both the role that fungi play in human disease and the role that fungi play in understanding the fundamental features of eukaryotic biology. Knowledge of the biology of fungi is essential to the prevention of fungal disease by illuminating basic features of fungal development, and is essential to treatment of fungal disease by identifying targets for pharmaceuticals and molecular candidates for vaccines. Use of fungi as model organisms continues to speed our understanding of essential features of all complex life, including humans, through study of basic cellular and molecular processes.