We have planned a Gordon Research Conference that, true to the GRC's distinguished history and tradition, will foster productive and stimulating exchanges of ideas aimed at obtaining a mechanistic understanding of membrane transport processes and their regulation. The field of transporters and channels has seen extraordinary progress in recent years, which bodes well for the timing and likely impact of this meeting. High-resolution structures of membrane proteins have been obtained, spurring a strong interest in functional and mechanistic analyses of these and other transporters, and attracting a new crop of young researchers. The central aim of this conference is to illuminate transport mechanisms by integrating structural data and functional findings. This type of integration is a crucial step toward understanding not only the transporters'function but also their rage- lotion and the role of many of these proteins in disease. This meeting will provide an ideal opportunity for younger investigators to interact extensively with top established scientists in the field, a type of interaction that is difficult to achieve in other settings. The areas to be addressed in the presentations at the conference will include physiology, biochemistry, biophysics, and cell biology. One new subject to be introduced will bring a new transformative perspective to the field: a novel approach to identifying and quantitating intermediates in the transport process, which consists of analyzing kinetic and electrophysiological data using first-principles- based equations to yield the relative populations of the molecular conformational and substrate occupancy states that participate in all stages of transport. We will organize a highly innovative session focused on this approach, where we will discuss thermodynamics, kinetics, and conformational states during transport. The session will also address the use of computational methods to pursue the same questions as well as to provide detailed information about the transitions between conformational states. Our conference will highlight cutting-edge discoveries and will gather promising young scientists and many of the most successful investigators in the field today. Therefore, robust financial support is crucial to the success of this meeting, particularly for recruiting young investigators, including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty members. The impact that a conference like this can have on their future professional lives cannot be overestimated. Given the key physiological roles of membrane transporters and channels in such processes as ion metabolism, in retinal absorption of nutrients, and signal modulation in neurons, many of the topics to be covered are crucial lee relevant in both the basic and medical realms. A better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of membrane transporters and channels is essential not only for the elucidation of the normal physiology of a host of vital molecules, but also for the development of new therapeutic agents and approaches to a wide variety of diseases, including hypertension, depression, hypothyroidism, malabsorption syndromes, and cystic fibrosis.
It is no exaggeration to say that membrane transporters and channels are among the most important molecules that keep organisms alive and distinct from their immediate surroundings. Membrane transporters and channels regulate the movement in and out of cells of a wide variety of substances, from ions to nutrients, and thus play key roles i everything from hormone action to muscular and cardiac contraction, electric signaling, and even drug action and treatment of various diseases. Therefore, this conference is focused on the very latest and most exciting findings on the mechanisms of membrane transport, and is of crucial relevance to public health as it addresses discoveries with ample potential applications in medical practice.