This proposal requests funds to support the 4th NIH Roadmap Membrane Protein Structure and Technologies Conference. The NIH Roadmap Initiative was created to focus short term on critically important, transformative, high impact, an strategically important areas of biomedical importance. Since membrane proteins play such a critical role in so many cellular and physiological processes and are so difficult to express, solubilize and purify, the production of membrane proteins was identified as a serious roadblock to understanding their structure and function and chosen as one of the top Roadmap Initiatives. This initiative is currently funded by NIH-wide support via the NIH Common Fund. The first phase of the Structural Biology Roadmap Initiative focused on creating Centers for Innovation in Membrane Protein Production. Two Centers, each with ~8 PIs, one at University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and the other at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), were funded and established in 2004. Because of the potentially transformative information that could be generated and shared, NIH staff initially decided that there should be an annual inter-Center meeting between the Centers. The first Inter- Center meeting was hosted by Robert Stroud at UCSF in May, 2006. Since then the NIH Common Fund membrane protein focus has been expanded. To date, 41 grants have been funded through this mechanism. The 2006 meeting was followed by 3 meetings with all Roadmap awardees contributing, hosted alternately by Ray Stevens at TSRI (11/2007) by Robert Stroud at UCSF (3/2009) and by Ray Stevens at LaJolla Shores (11/2010). These NIH Roadmap Membrane Protein Structure and Technologies Conferences became the primary forum for exchanging technologies for membrane proteins in a critical phase of a rapidly developing field. New families of membrane protein structures emerged through the program. The conference became extremely popular and numbers of attendees had to be limited in 2010. The 4th conference, hosted by Robert Stroud, is planned for November 28-30, 2012 at the Westin Market Street Hotel in San Francisco with workshops at UCSF on November 27th. This venue allows expansion of the number of participants to 250 attendees, and provides conference facilities where talks and poster presentations, as well as breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks are in adjacent spaces to encourage discussion and conversation during breaks. The length of the meeting is also extended from 1 1/2 days to 2 1/2 days to allow more participants to attend and present. The meeting will provide a unique opportunity for membrane protein biologists, members of all the projects funded through the RFA Membrane Protein Production and Structure Determination and members of the 9 Membrane Protein Centers funded by the Protein Structure initiative to discuss the current status of their projects. The meeting will also be open to other NIH funded researchers for attendance and abstract consideration for the program.
This proposal requests funds to support the 4th NIH Roadmap/Common Fund Membrane Protein Structure and Technologies Conference planned for November 28-30, 2012 in San Francisco. The length of the conference has been extended and the number of attendees has been expanded to accommodate all membrane protein researchers funded by the NIH Common Fund and Protein Structure Initiative and to open the meeting to other NIH funded PIs. Presentation and discussion will deal with progress as well as barriers to progress that could transform membrane protein structure determination.