This application is for partial support of the newly established Visual Systems Development Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) to be held on May 24-25, 2014 at the Renaissance Tuscany IL Choco Resort in Lucca, Italy. The GRS seminar is designed to provide outstanding graduate students and postdoctoral research fellows who conduct vision science research the opportunity to assemble and present current, unpublished research amongst peers in a non-intimidating forum. Additionally, the intimacy of the meeting offers the opportunity to interact, foster collaborations and share career support amongst the leaders and next generation of vision scientists. The GRS precedes the established Visual Systems Development Gordon Research Conference (GRC), and therefore attendees of the GRS are already comfortable with discussion formats, research topics and scientific discussions and are more likely to actively participate in discussions with the senior scientists attending the GRC. Furthermore, concerted effort is made to encourage participation and garner interest of under-represented minorities in developmental biology and vision science research. To achieve the initiatives stated above, the meeting will include a keynote talk by Bill Harris (Cambridge University) and three scientific sessions totaling twelve speakers selected from submitted abstracts. After each talk, ample time is given for scientific discussion amongst attendees. Further work is presented during two, 90- minute poster sessions that provide additional forums for scientific discussion. The collegial atmosphere is cultivated in these scientific discussions, over meals, and through an additional social hour on Saturday evening. Through these interactions, attendees will be presented with the emerging questions in the field of vision sciences. Understanding the developmental principles that regulate the development of the eye and associated visual centers in the brain has provided and will continue to provide fundamental insights into areas such as stem cell biology, proliferation/fate/differentiation processes in general, as well as ocular and visual disease mechanisms.
The goal of the Visual Systems Development Gordon Research Seminar is to provide outstanding junior scientists (both Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Research Fellows) the opportunity to gather and discuss cutting-edge research pertaining to the development and maintenance of retinal function. These interactions will foster collaborations and discussions between scientists who are at the bench and will bring forth unanswered questions and potential research initiatives aimed at treating retinal diseases to the next- generation of vision scientists.