This proposal requests partial support for a meeting on the Immunology of Fungal Infections as part of a Gordon Research Conference (GRC) and Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) to be held in Galveston, Texas, January 12-18, 2013. The broad and long-term goal of this conference is to bring together the world's leading researchers in this rapidly expanding field to foster cross-disciplinary discussions and collaborations, so as to enhance our understanding of anti-fungal immunity with the aim of developing new insights for controlling these pathogens. The inaugural GRC held in January, 2011 was a great success and this conference will include, for the first time, a GRS to be held in conjunction with the GRC.
The specific aims of this meeting will be to convene over 40 leading experts who will present mostly unpublished data and insights covering critical areas within the field of fungal immunology. We expect a total of >150 participants for a five-day conference in a relatively isolated setting. The GRC program will be structured into nine sessions that comprehensively cover the various host and fungal factors that determine innate and adaptive immune responses. Both basic and translation research will be emphasized. Afternoon poster sessions will permit all participants to contribute to these topics with the most meritorious abstracts chosen by the conference Chairs and Vice-Chairs for oral presentation. Every effort will be made to encourage participation by postgraduate students and postdoctoral scholars in the GRC. In addition, the GRS, which will take place immediately preceding the GRC, will be specifically aimed at trainees, allowing them to present their research and interact in a relaxing and extra supportive environment. Every effort will be made to have gender parity and to include racial/ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities. The significance of this application is tha this GRC and GRS will provide a forum for bringing together and synergizing members of the international research community working on the immunology of fungal infections. The GRS will have the added value of helping to train and energize the next generation of researchers in the field. The health relatedness of this application is that the discussions generated will help defin the important questions relating to basic science as well as those required for the development of novel strategies for immunotherapy. The latter is desperately required so as to reduce the very high levels of mortality associated with systemic forms of these devastating diseases.
Fungi are usually harmless in the context of normal host responses, but modern medical practices, a variety of surgical interventions, and the AIDS pandemic have led to immune deficiencies and susceptibility to fungal disease in a significant proportion of the population. Millions of persons worldwide die from invasive fungal diseases annually, most commonly from infections due to species of Candida, Cryptococcus and Aspergillus, yet the study of fungal infections has lagged behind those of other pathogens. The discussions of current research at this Gordon Research Conference and Gordon Research Seminar will define important questions that need to be addressed for the development of new immunotherapeutic strategies for the control of fungal infections.