This application requests partial funding for the 18th Gordon Conference on Mammalian Gametogenesis and Embryogenesis to be held August 21-26, 2011 at Waterville Valley Resort in Waterville Valley New Hampshire. This conference provides a unique and valuable opportunity for discussion and the exchange of ideas between clinicians devoted to delivering the most modern therapeutic approaches to their patients, and basic scientists who are examining the biological mechanisms that underlie normal and abnormal function of gametogenesis and embryogenesis. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the production of viable eggs and sperm and the initiation of embryonic development is essential for the continued survival of animal species. Advances in reproductive biology have immediate application, not only for the treatment of human infertility and subfertility, but also for improvements in developing contraceptive methods, advances in agricultural engineering and novel approaches to wildlife preservation. Moreover, stem cells, pluripotent cells, gametes and early embryos provide important models for basic research aimed at understanding epigenetics, the developmental origins of adult disease, environmental perturbation of the epigenome, nuclear programming and cell cycle regulation, as well as transcriptional, translational, and post-translational control mechanisms. These areas have potential significance for a wide variety of biomedical applications. The objective of the Gordon Conference on Mammalian Gametogenesis and Embryogenesis is to provide a forum for the exchange of the latest advances in the field, as well as to promote discussion and debate by providing a relaxed setting that fosters interaction. A particularly important aspect of the Gordon Conference setting is the blending of young and established investigators, as well as national and international scientists to promote exchanges that will generate new ideas and facilitate new collaborations.
Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the production of viable eggs and sperm and the initiation of embryonic development is essential for the creation of viable healthy offspring. Advances in reproductive biology have immediate application, not only for the treatment of human infertility and the development of new contraceptive methods, but also for a better understanding of environmental influences on the epigenome and the developmental origins of adult disease. The study of gametes and early embryos is critical to our understanding of human reproductive health and disease.