The proposal requests partial support for the Gordon Research Conference on Proteoglycans that will be held on July 8-13, 2012 in Proctor Academy, Andover, NH. The conference has been held every two years since 1984 and has an outstanding reputation. It brings together a diverse group of investigators who will present new and unpublished high impact research on proteoglycans in an intense yet informal setting. The conference will be composed of invited speakers chosen by a scientific organizing committee that includes former Proteoglycan Gordon Conference Chairs and others who have substantial research expertise proteoglycans research. In addition to assembling high level proteoglycan research scientists the conference provides a forum for new investigators to present their work in poster sessions or, in some cases, as invited speakers to give short talks that are intertwined between the core set of invited speakers. The Gordon conference setting provides a unique and effective way for all of the attendees to closely interact. The extended discussions as well as the well-organized pastoral setting at Proctor Academy gives attendees ample opportunity for direct interaction with speakers so they can gain additional insight into the latest research findings and, at the same, facilitate the formation of new collaborations. The proteoglycan field is well known for its collegiality, open discussions, and support of junior investigators. Originally the conference focused primarily on cartilage and arthritis. However over time it became clear that proteoglycans have critical functions in numerous biological systems including the formation and pathology of many parts of the musculoskeletal system such as muscle, bone, tendons and teeth. In addition to their function in the skeleton the proteoglycans have fundamental roles in immunology and inflammation, vascularization, cardiac function, cancer and development. The roles of proteoglycans in these systems has provided a pivotal foundation for devising therapy to treat common diseases associated with them and these research areas will be the focus of the proposed conference. Proteoglycans have also been shown to have key roles in rare diseases such as multiple hereditary exostoses, and mucopolysaccharidosis both of which will be highlighted in the program. This year two new sessions will be added that will address the role of proteoglycans in stem cell biology and tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The Proteoglycan conference is very international with over 33% of the attendees coming from Europe, Asia, Australia, South America and Africa. Attendees will be selected by invitation from the applications submitted online and will be chosen to represent a diverse set of researchers and careful attention will be paid to the inclusion of women and underrepresented minorities in all aspects of the conference including Discussion Leaders, Speakers, Poster Presenters and Attendees. This year the Proteoglycans community will hold its first Gordon Research Seminar on July 7 and 8 at Proctor Academy focused on the Proteoglycans in "(Re)generation, Repair and Therapeutics".
The goal of the conference is to promote the exchange of ideas, new findings, concepts, and technology related to proteoglycan research in human disease. It is anticipated that the outcome of the conference will be an enhanced understanding of numerous human diseases, including those that involve pathologies in human development, the musculoskeletal system, nervous system, vascular system, immunity, and cancer, and that this understanding will ultimately lead to the formulation of new drugs and treatments for combating these diseases.