We request partial support for the Fibronectin, Integrins and Related Molecules Gordon Research Conference (GRC) and Gordon Research Seminar (GRS). The meetings will be held February 10-15, and February 9-10, 2013 in the Ventura Beach Marriott, Ventura, California, respectively. The broad and long-term objectives of the conference are firstly to increase our understanding of: 1) how interactions between cells and the surrounding extracellular matrices contribute to normal development and homeostasis;2) how to use this knowledge to obtain a greater understanding and treatment of human diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease;3) the fundamental molecular mechanisms of cell matrix adhesion, involving complex supramolecular structures extending from the extracellular matrix outside the cell, through transmembrane receptors such as intregrins, to the cytoskeleton and nucleus;4) how the molecules of the integrin adhesome are especially adapted to respond to and transduce mechanical force. Our second objective is to contribute to the education and training the next generation of scientists. The addition and renewal of the GRS that precedes the GRC provides an exceptional opportunity for graduate students, post- docs, and other scientists with comparable levels of experience and education to discuss their current research with each other and 4 more senior scientists. From past experience it is evident that this scheme strengthens the confidence of the attendees so that they are more active and engaged in the main GRC.
The specific aims of this application are to hold a GRS and a GRC that advance the field. The two day GRS will convene 2 invited speakers, 2 discussion leaders with up to 50 graduate student and postdoctoral attendees, 12 of whom will be selected to give talks. The five day GRC that follows will convene 22 invited speakers, with 150 attendees, including the GRS participants, 22 of which will be selected for talks. Both programs will contain poster sessions to further maximize scientific discussions. These meetings seek to advance the field by addressing two challenges shared by many biological fields at present. The first is to integrate robust quantitative analysis, biophysical ad engineering approaches, advanced microscopy and mathematical modeling to enhance our understanding of molecular mechanisms. In particular, it is vital that we bring these approaches to elucidate the special mechano-sensing properties of the integrin adhesion machinery. The second is to use methods to address function within the intact organism, leading the way to a better understanding of how these molecules contribute to development, homeostasis and disease, so that treatments of integrin and ECM related diseases can be improved. We especially seek to understand how mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix and the links to the cytoskeleton have such profound effects on cell behavior.
Partial support is sought from NIH for an international Gordon Research Conference on Fibronectin, Integrins and Related Molecules;molecules that are vital to build organisms during embryogenesis, maintain tissue integrity throughout life, and protect us from infection and facilitate wound healing. The exchange of ideas from the experts and trainees attending this conference will promote the use of new technological advances and approaches to discover treatments for the diseases that occur when these molecules do not function normally, notably cancer, and inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases.