This proposal requests partial support for the 2012 Gordon Research Conference on the Biology and Pathobiology of the Cornea to be held in Ventura, California, March 25-30, 2012. The broad and long-term goal of this conference is to foster innovation in corneal health research by bring together the world's leading researchers and trainees in this field in a small format that enables cross-disciplinary discussions and collaborations so as to improve our understanding of corneal biology and pathobiology and how such knowledge could be leveraged to maintain corneal health and therefore vision.
The specific aims will be to convene leading experts covering critical areas within this field and trainees, with a total of 150 participants for a five-day conference in a relatively isolated settig. The program will be structured into nine sessions addressing challenges in basic research and clinical application, corneal development, systems biology, stem cells, barrier function, transparency, secretion, proteomics and metabolomics, infection and inflammation, dry eye, wound healing, modeling and engineering, regeneration and reconstruction. Invited speakers will include experts both inside and outside the vision science field with expertise relevant to advancing corneal research. Additional speaker slots will be available for late breaking hot topics selected from abstract submissions. Afternoon poster sessions will permit all participants to contribute. Every effort will be made to encourage participation by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, to have parity in the numbers of women, and to include minorities and persons with disabilities. Innovation lies in the concept of bringing together a relatively small group of scientist and trainees with a common interest in the cornea. Other meetings are significantly larger, focused on the whole eye and/or vision, on clinical care, or on specific topis relating to corneal research. The significance of this application is that this Gordon Research Conference will enable a forum for scientist and trainees focused on the cornea and its supportive tissues to exchange ideas, meet experts from outside the field whose research relates to understanding corneal biology, and to develop productive collaborations to further advance the field of corneal research and help translate discoveries in basic science to clinical practice and improve vision care nationally and internationally .
The aim of this proposal is to secure partial funding for the conference to cover registration fees and/or travel costs for graduate students, trainees and other participants who are not NEI-funded principal investigators.
The heath of the cornea is critical to vision. The Gordon Research Conference on the Biology and Pathobiology of the Cornea differs from other conferences in this field in that it is a small yet intensely comprehensive meeting covering all aspects of corneal biology research, including the basic sciences and their translation to strategies for maintaining or restoring corneal health. By bringing together leading scientists and trainees from around the globe in a format that enables results and ideas to be shared, and new collaborations to be forged, this meeting will lead to a better understanding of the cornea which should accelerate research aimed at reducing the incidence of corneal blindness.