This proposal is a request for funding to support the travel expenses for young scientists to attend and participate in the 2014 International Meeting on the Molecular Biology of Hepatitis B Viruses, scheduled for September 3 - 6, 2014 at the conference facility of the University of California, Los Angeles. 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 350 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 on HBV continues, and the latest progress in the field is discussed and disseminated in a timely manner. The annual HBV meeting provides the forum for scientific exchanges and the dissemination of latest research information. The 2014 meeting will uphold and enhance the traditional format. It will consist of 9 oral scientific sessions and 2 poster sessions as well as less structured "networking" time. The scientific interactions will be facilitated by two keynote addresses. 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 is requested.
The 2014 Molecular Biology of Hepatitis B Virus Meeting, scheduled for September 3-6, 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 350 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.