The XIXth International Pathogenic Neisseria Conference (IPNC) will be held in Asheville, North Carolina from October 12-17th, 2014. The IPNC is a highly regarded and prestigious biennial scientific meeting that is focused on the pathogenesis and control of diseases due to Neisseria meningitidis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. These Neisseria species rank high among medically significant pathogens due to the unacceptable incidence of meningococcal disease and gonorrhea and associated morbidity and mortality world-wide. These pathogens are also model organisms for studying horizontal genetic exchange, adaptation to the host through high frequency phase and antigenic variation of bacterial genes, interactions with innate receptors, evolution of host-restricted virulence factors and mechanisms by which bacteria can act as either a commensal organism (e.g. the meningococcal carrier state, inapparent gonococcal infections) or a frank pathogen. Historically, the focus of the IPNC has been on basic scientific and applied research rather than clinical research. The objectives of the 2014 IPNC are to: i.) Organize a conference that is well balanced with respect to basic and translational research and that gives equal emphasis to research on Neisseria meningitidis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae;ii.) Highlight cutting edge research and areas of research need by conducting a rigorous review of abstracts for oral presentation and by organizing roundtable discussion groups to stimulate new areas of investigation;and iii.) Create a dynamic and interactive setting that facilitates interactions between established and junior researchers to ensure the future of this important field. To meet these objectives, abstracts will be solicited in nine research areas that we have identified as critical for increasing knowledge about the pathogenesis of these organisms and for the eventual control of disease. A rigorous evaluation process will be used to select the highest quality abstracts for oral presentation;remaining acceptable abstracts will be presented as posters at evening sessions. Several new investigators will be included among session moderators, and posters presented by student and postdoctoral fellows will be judged by both senior and junior scientists to increase interactions between scientific generations. Four round table discussion groups have been organized that address new research areas, and one or two vaccinology symposia will be held to discuss the on-going characterization of the newly developed group B meningococcal vaccines, which continues to be a highly significant and exciting research area within the Neisseria field.
The pathogenic Neisseria are reponsible for a high level of morbidity and mortality throughout the world. Over 100 million Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections occur annually world-wide and gonorrhea has a serious impact on reproductive and neonatal health as well as the spread of human immunodeficiency virus. Gonorrhea is particularly debilitating in women due to the seriousness of pelvic inflammatory disease and the associated consequences of infertility and ectopic pregnancy. The rapid emergence of antibiotic resistance in N. gonorrhoeae threatens current control measures and there is no gonorrhea vaccine. Neisseria meningitidis is responsible for severe invasive infections of the meninges and, or bloodstream. Fatality due to meningococcemia and subsequent shock can reach 40%. Permanent sequelae occur in 20% of survivors and include loss of limbs, deafness and neurological damage. Disease rates range from 1-3/100,000 individuals in most industrialized nations to 10-25/100,000 in some developing countries. Despite the availability of effective vaccines against the serogroups A, C, Y, W-135, outbreaks and sporadic cases due to strains of these serogroups occur worldwide. Invasive disease is also caused by meningococcal strains of serogroup B, and the success of the newly developed Group B meningococcal vaccines awaits further evaluation.