This application requests partial support for the Gordon Research Conference on Cellular and Molecular Fungal Biology to be held at the Holderness School, June 15-20, 2014. The broad and long-term goal of the conference is to increase our collective understanding of basic fungal biology and its application to socially important problems. Fungi cause important human diseases, and much of the research presented will directly address the interests of the NIH-National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Furthermore, fungi are among the best and most tractable eukaryotic model organisms;in the broad sense, almost all of the conference will be central to the aims of NIH-National Institute of General Medical Science.
The specific aim of this meeting will be to convene participants of an unprecedented range of expertise in fungal biology, including cell/molecular, systems, and evolutionary biology in order to address how fungi grow, reproduce, interact with other organisms, and function in their environments. The 46 speakers among approximately 140 attendees will be together for five days in a setting with few distractions. Approximately 90 posters will be presented in three shifts. The oral and poster sessions are designed for succinct and efficient communication of unpublished results with emphasis on discussion and networking;evaluations from past conferences demonstrate the effectiveness of this format. The 2014 meeting will feature new research representing the full range of fungal biology including genome dynamics, microbiomes, systems biology, evolutionary and population genomics, pathogenesis and symbiosis, and cell biology. 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 and other immunocompromised patients, candidiasis, cryptococcosis and aspergillosis, as well as systemic fungal diseases that infect immunocompetent patients such as coccidiodes.
The health relatedness of this application is twofold: i) fungi are causal agents of important human diseases and ii) fungi are the best and most tractable models for eukaryotic biology. Knowledge of the biology of fungi is essential to the prevention of fungal disease by illuminating basic features of fungal development, including spore germination, colony establishment, growth, reproduction, and interactions with other organisms, including but not limited to mammalian hosts. This knowledge is also 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.