A The 2016 Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Visual Systems Development provides a forum for junior and senior scientists from many disciplines to share unpublished, innovative research. This biennial meeting was established in 2000 under the auspices of the GRC, an organization internationally known for the high quality, cutting edge nature of its meetings. The next Visual Systems Development GRC will be held August 7-12, 2016, and the accompanying Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) on August 6-7, 2016, at the Mount Snow Conference Facility, in West Dover, Vermont. This is an ideal setting for encouraging intense and invigorating discussions in a collegial atmosphere. Scientists, who share a common interest in the development of the visual system, but work on diverse model systems, have few opportunities to interact scientifically in such a focused setting. The specific objectives are to foster interactions across disciplines, promote a sense of community among vision researchers, provide a springboard into vision-related research for scientists from other fields, and mentor students in a supportive scientific setting. The invited speakers include both prominent scholars and promising young scientists who are applying new approaches to the visual system and other intersecting fields. In addition to the invited speakers, all participants can present their research at highly interactive poster sessions. Short talks will also be selected from the submitted poster abstracts, and integrated in each session. The Visual System Development GRC has established a reputation as the leading conference in its field, and has continued to garner extremely positive reviews, particularly for adding a trainee- organized GRS pre-meeting. The GRS assembles ~40-45 graduate and postdoctoral trainees to present and discuss their research immediately before the GRC begins. A few senior investigators will attend the GRS to provide advice and feedback, thereby nurturing the careers of our future principal investigators. A guiding principle that keeps these conferences fresh and relevant is our commitment to explore novel themes, and to gather a completely new cast of speakers, for each successive meeting. The specific program described in this application aims to represent the breadth of eye development, function, evolution and disease, yet also delineate thematic foci. Thus, the 2016 meeting will highlight timely topics with translational impact, like Stem Cells to Organs, Circuitry, Synapses and Biological Clocks, and Ocular Disease Mechanisms. This meeting continues to expand its scope by promoting stimulating cross talk between developmental biologists and investigators focused on translational aspects of vision science. The 2016 GRC/GRS meetings will encourage greater understanding of the basic principles that drive the development and maintenance of the visual system, with the anticipation that these findings lead to better treatments for ocular and other neurological diseases.
In 2012, over 20.6 million adult Americans and 285 million people worldwide suffered from low or no vision, making this a significant public health problem. This conference seeks to bring basic ocular researchers from the widest possible range of disciplines together with clinicians, to promote understanding of visual system development and disease, and to develop new approaches for treating vision disorders. This meeting also promotes the six major objectives of the NEI Framework for Vision Research (http://www.nei.nih.gov/strategicplanning), most notably to 'gather knowledge of the molecular basis of ocular health and disease' and 'strengthen the pool of vision researchers'.