Funds are requested for partial support of the Annual Meeting of the Society for Developmental Biology for the next five years (2009-2013). The Society has organized the major meeting in developmental biology for the past 70 years (missing two during World War II). And in the last decade, the meeting size has nearly doubled both in attendance (623 to 1,289) and abstract submission (433 to 768). There is long-term interest in this subject, which is a central biological problem, as well as increasing public interest in issues such as cloning and stem cells. This highlights the importance of the subject both in terms of scientific advancement and in public education. The SDB is the largest society devoted to this field, with over 2,200 members worldwide, including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and established investigators, many of whom hold NIH grants. The proposed meetings will continue the tradition of mixing poster presentations, plenary sessions, concurrent symposia, workshops on new technologies and current issues, a postdoctoral symposium, and an education symposium. In all sessions, a special effort is made to have a diversity of speakers in terms of model organisms, experimental approaches, career stages, gender, as well as racial/ethnic background. The education symposium has a significant impact on teaching at major universities and small colleges, as well as for outreach to the pre-college and lay populations. It also addresses bioethics of research, which is highly relevant to establishing national policies for research on stem cells and cloning, as well as public understanding of science (and evolution). The next meeting, to be held in San Francisco, will celebrate the 70th anniversary of founding of the Society and 50 years of publication of the official journal, Developmental Biology. As such, sessions highlighting history and breakthroughs will be included in the program, as well as Evolution of Developmental Regulatory Systems, History of Developmental Biology, Germ and Embryonic Stem Cells, Developmental Neurobiology, Development and Tissue Engineering, Neural and Tissue-specific Stem Cells, Pattern Formation, Evolution of Complex Body Plans, Epigenetic Influences on Development, as well as Organ Development and Mechanisms of Developmental Patterning. This meeting will be followed by gatherings in the Mountain region, Central region, and the East coast, as rotation throughout the various regions eases the travel burden for those with lower budgets. Efforts will be made to keep the tradition of using university campuses as venue for they are more economical and the collegial atmosphere is one that the members cherish, although the number of campuses able to host the growing group is now much smaller.
These long-running annual meetings (the 68th in 2009) of the Society for Developmental Biology are the major gathering in the field where researchers in all stages of their careers and working on various organisms using different approaches present and learn about the latest findings. The meetings also provide a forum for sound, evidence-based discussions of advances in developmental biology and related areas as applied to medicine, agriculture, and national science policy.