The main goal of the Physical Virology Gordon Research Conference (GRC) is to facilitate interdisciplinary interactions and collaborations that will advance the fields of virology and nano-medicine by overcoming traditional boundaries between relevant disciplines. Bursts of progress in biomedical research are often the result of bringing conceptual and experimental tools from various disciplines to bear on a problem of common interest, in this case the structure, physical properties, and utility of viruses and virus-like self-assembled systems. While this topic is of interest to physicists, chemists, and biologist alike, scientists from these diverse fields rarely attend the same meeting. Very often, scientists in one discipline are simply unaware of the barriers limiting progress in another. From its inception in 2009, the Physical Virology GRC has been a focal meeting for a growing community of researchers that span these fields, but have common interests in the biology, chemistry, and nanotechnology of viruses and virus-inspired structures. Our goals are as follows.
Specific Aim 1. Assemble an outstanding program of leading investigators, students, and postdocs in the field of physical virology, under the format of GRC gatherings. NIH support is essential to raising sufficient funds to allow colleagues from distant locations to attend the conference, necessary because the field includes prominent scientists from several European and Asian countries. The extended free time at the GRC provides a broad opportunity to explore collaboration. For example, mixing researchers with interests in virology and nanotechnology has already opened opportunities to generate new therapeutic approaches and new materials. The GRC format encourages a dialectic approach to scientific talks. The prerequisite for such a dialog is a sustained effort to communicate research across scientific boundaries.
Specific Aim 2. Introduce students and postdocs to physical virology as an interdisciplinary field, and to the key principal investigators in the field. The Gordon-Keenan Research seminar preceding the GRC will allow students to freely exchange ideas in a non-intimidating environment. A specific goal of funding for this meeting is to support attendance of students and postdocs. The GRC schedule has been specifically adapted to include poster talks to encourage active participation of these young scientists.
The Physical Virology meeting brings together top tier scientists from diverse disciplines such as biology, chemistry, physics, and biomedical engineering who share a common interest in understanding the physical characteristics of viruses, and how they may be utilized to advance antiviral drug discovery, biomedical engineering, and nanotechnology.