Funds are requested to provide partial support for the 6th International Symposium on the Biology of Vertebrate Sex Determination to be held in April of 2012. This meeting has been held at 3-year intervals since its inception in 1997. This unique meeting is attended by the entire international field working on diverse vertebrate systems including amphibians, fishes, birds, reptiles, monotremes, marsupials, and eutherian mammals, including domesticated species, mice, and humans. It is nearly impossible to keep up with the advances made in so many diverse vertebrate systems. Therefore, the objective of this meeting is to exchange information, using a comparative approach to advance our understanding of the process of sex determination and sex differentiation and disorders of sexual development. Many collaborations resulted from the first five symposia: reagents were exchanged, experiments planned and new ways of looking at sex determination discussed. Approximately 70% of the participants of the 5th symposium were junior scientists, including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and assistant professors, providing a unique opportunity for interactions with senior leaders in the field. We expect the 6th symposium to be as productive and stimulating as the previous ones.
Sexual development during embryogenesis results in the formation of males and females that produce sperm and eggs, respectively. Genetic and environmental-induced birth defects in sexual development result in clinically significant abnormalities that include intersexes, common genital abnormalities such as hypospadias, infertility, and pathologies such as cancer. The proposed conference will bring together senior and junior scientists from around the world studying different types of vertebrate animals to learn more about sexual development and apply new knowledge to the understanding and treatment of disorders of sexual development and disease.