Partial support is requested for the Gordon Research Conference on Glycolipid and Sphingolipid Biology, to be held at Il Ciocco Hotel in Lucca, Italy from April 22-26, 2012. The purpose of the conference is to encourage the transfer of ideas and information within the community of scientists who work at the cutting edge of glycolipid and sphingolipid research, as well as to provide an environment where investigators from other scientific disciplines can learn about, and contribute to, this rapidly evolving field. Sphingolipis participate in many biological processes, including cell growth, differentiation and apoptosis, but only in the past decade have the molecular bases for these functions become clear (i.e., as modulators of membrane structure, cell- cell interactions, receptor functions, and signaling via ceramide, sphingosine 1-phosphate and others potent bioactive lipids). As an understanding of the roles of sphingolipids in disease etiology and treatment--most notably for cancer--has evolved, sphingolipid analogs such as safingol and FTY720, as well as anticancer chemotherapeutics that modify sphingolipid metabolism (such as fenretinide) either have entered clinical trials or have been approved (e.g., FTY720 for multiple sclerosis), illustrating te strong partnership of basic and translational research in this field. Important aspects of this Gordon Research Conference are that it brings together scientists that work in different disciplines, such as basic biochemistry, genetics, developmental biology, cancer chemoprevention and chemotherapy and that it encourages participation of both senior investigators and junior investigators. As with previous Gordon Research Conferences in this series, there will be a significant percentage of participants from countries outside the U.S. as well as participation by women and minorities. Conferees will be encouraged to participate both in the formal lecture/discussion sessions and less formally in poster presentations. The platform sessions will cover leading edge research in basic sphingolipid biology and biochemistry, including multiple sessions devoted to translational aspects of sphingolipid biology;i.e., sphingolipids in metabolic syndrome and diabetes, and as signaling molecules in cancer, infection, and multiple sclerosis. The program will close with a session dedicated to exploring new models for exploring sphingolipid functions in lipid homeostasis and function in yeast, in the eye (in Drososphila), and importantly, in mouse models of cancer.
The Gordon Research Conference on Glycolipid and Sphingolipid Biology assembles a group of scientists and physicians who are performing research on the cutting edge of their respective fields to define the roles for these complex and bioactive lipids not only in membrane structure, function, cell regulation, but also their roles in many diseases, including lipid storage disorders, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, and most- importantly, cancer and its prevention.