Mycoplasmology is the study of Mycoplasma spp. and closely related bacteria, including many species that are either primary human pathogens or have significantly detrimental impacts on our animal- and plant-based food supply, with attendant socioeconomic consequences for human health. The only regular national or international meeting focused specifically on this topic is the International Congress of the International Organization for Mycoplasmology (IOM). This Congress, held biennially since 1976, supports direct exchange of recent progress in mycoplasmology and helps to establish research goals and partnerships for the future. The IOM Congress also provides a venue for career development, networking and formal recognition of early career achievements by the next generation of young scientists. The IOM's 20th International Congress (IOM2014.org) will take place 1-6 June 2014 at the Federal Universidade Regional de Blumenau in Santa Catarina, Brazil, marking the first time the Congress is held anywhere in South America. About 250 delegates representing more than 30 countries are expected to attend, based on past IOM Congresses held in the U.S., U.K., Europe, Israel, Turkey, China, Japan and Australia. The abstract-driven scientific program is a week of plenary and poster sessions, plus award lectures in basic and translational mycoplasmology and high-profile interdisciplinary keynote lectures. All presentations and materials are in English. The invited "10-minute talks from posters" sessions are an especially popular mechanism that fosters active interactions with grad students and postdocs. Prior keynote speakers include the Nobel laureates Luc Montagnier, Hamilton Smith and Ada Yonath. The diverse specialties of the 2014 program committee (16 ethnically diverse scientists from 12 countries, with equal gender representation) encompass abstract categories typically including molecular and cell biology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, diagnostics, chemotherapy, immunopathology and vaccinology. The program further aims to unify mycoplasmology by highlighting those aspects of diverse pathogens and diseases that cross the traditional specialty boundaries. The 2014 Congress will be particularly timely in that regard because of the advantages the relative simplicity of mycoplasmas confers for current proteomics, metabolomics and synthetic genomics research. The 2014 Congress will receive financial support directly from the IOM, Brazilian governmental sources and international corporate sponsorship. The Federation of European Microbiological Societies supports European student participation, while the specific aim of this R13 proposal is to promote the involvement of young U.S. graduate students and postdocs in mycoplasmology by partially defraying their costs of participation in the IOM's 20th International Congress.
This conference's relevance to public health is its focus specifically on species of Mycoplasma and closely related bacteria that cause diseases including pneumonia and chronic or permanent lung damage in neonates, children and young adults;non-gonococcal urethritis;or spontaneous abortion, preterm labor, and premature birth. Other species have detrimental impacts on our animal- and plant-based food supply with socioeconomic consequences for human health. Direct international exchange of new findings on the biology, epidemiology and control of these pathogens will contribute to improved diagnostics and control strategies likely to reduce the burden of infectious diseases, and will also create career development opportunities for rising young biomedical scientists.