All major life processes such as photosynthesis, aerobic respiration, methanogenesis and DNA synthesis are dependent upon essential roles played by modified tetrapyrroles such as chlorophylls, hemes, coenzyme F430 and cobalamins (vitamin B12). These cofactors of life not only represent some of the colourful compounds on the planet but are also some of the most complex small molecules made in cells. The 2014 GRC on the Chemistry and Biology of Tetrapyrroles will provide a stimulating forum for the presentation and discussion of cutting edge advances on hemes, chlorophylls, bilins, corrins (vitamin B12) and other related cofactors of life. The conference will feature a wide range of topics including medical aspects associated with tetrapyrrole metabolism and trafficking, the biosynthesis of these natural products, the chemical synthesis of derivative and model systems, and the industrial application of these molecules for bioenergy, bioremediation and photodynamic therapy. The conference will bring together biochemists, microbiologists, chemists and physicians at the forefront of their fields, providing many opportunities for junior scientists and graduate students to discuss their research and exchange ideas via poster sessions and informal meetings. Some poster presenters will be selected for talks. The collegial atmosphere of this Conference, with programmed discussion sessions as well as opportunities for informal gatherings in the afternoons and evenings, provides an avenue for scientists from different disciplines to brainstorm and promotes cross-disciplinary collaborations in the various research areas represented. The meeting will include sessions on recent advances in tetrapyrrole synthesis/function, their role in health and disease, how these molecules are made and broken down, the roles they play in the environment, the interplay with metal homeostasis, their evolution, their delivery and repair and the role they are likely to play in synthetic biolog. The sessions will give delegates a chance to understand how enzymes work cooperatively within pathways to ensure the efficient and controlled production of tetrapyrroles, gain first hand knowledge of what goes wrong when these pathway are derailed as with human diseases such as the porphyrias, and learn how these conditions can be controlled. It will provide a unique platform for scientists from many backgrounds to understand how chemistry can be used to inform our knowledge of these molecules, how they can be tailored to selectively interfere with specific molecular processes and how all of this knowledge can be applied in the design and redesign of biology for useful purposes. The conference environment will stimulate such cross fertilization of ideas, allowing clinicians to talk to chemists and engineers to ecologists under a tetrapyrrole umbrella. There will be a significant focus on the integration and participation of young researchers who are helping to provide many of the new exciting breakthrough ideas in this area.
The proposed conference is relevant to public health since it brings together diverse researchers whose presentations will cover aspects of human health ranging from the role of heme and B12 in bacterial and parasitic infections to genetic disorders of heme synthesis and B12 metabolism, especially those related to erythropoiesis. The Chemistry and Biology of Tetrapyrroles GRC conference is relevant to the Mission of NIH since it responds to the goal to support activities that will lead to new discoveries that are basic to te advancement of the Nation to protect and improve health.