This proposal requests partial support for an international meeting on Carotenoids as part of the Gordon Research Conference series to be held in Ventura, California January 17-22, 2010. The broad and long term goal of the conference is to increase our understanding of the science of carotenoids with the goal of applying the scientific knowledge to ultimately improve human health.
The specific aims of this meeting will be to convene approximately 45 speakers who represent critical areas of carotenoid research from a multidisciplinary perspective with a total of 135 participants for a five day conference. The program will have nine sessions that broadly address current issues in carotenoid research, including the following: (i) genomics/modeling/systems biology;(ii) biosynthesis and regulation;(iii) photosynthesis;(iv) metabolic engineering of provitamin A carotenoids;(v) carotenoid transport and metabolism/apocarotenoids;(vi) biological actions of carotenoids;(vii) carotenoids in eye health;(viii) carotenoids and oxidation: chronic disease prevention;(ix) keynote, selected short talks. In addition, two evening poster sessions will permit all participants to contribute to these topics. The significance of this application is that the Gordon Research Conference on Carotenoids (held every 3 years) is a foundational component of the series of conferences that propel research in the international community of carotenoid researchers. The health relatedness of this application is in clarifying how best to use carotenoid science to impact diseases known to be related to inadequate carotenoid intake (e.g., improving the provitamin A content of the food supply for the global prevention of vitamin A deficiency and resulting blindness) as well as to use new methodologies to elucidate the potential role of carotenoids in the prevention of chronic disease, especially age-related eye disease but also cancer and other diseases of aging.
Narrative: Carotenoids are critical for public health both domestically and internationally. Vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, especially affecting children (e.g., xeropthalmia). Staple foods can now be metabolically engineered to provide provitamin A carotenoids to improve the health of millions of the world's poorest children. Non-provitamin A carotenoids also appear to be important in human health;e.g., cutting edge research suggests certain carotenoids may play a role in the prevention of age- related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in Americans over age 65.