This is an application for support of a conference sponsored by the Genetics Society of America (GSA) entitled "Model Organisms to Human Biology: Cancer Genetics", to be held in Washington, DC on June 17-20, 2012. The GSA believes that in this age it is important to convene a meeting that brings together investigators who study model organisms with investigators who study important problems in human biology and disease. This combination promotes a dynamic forum for the exchange of results and ideas between scientists who do not normally interact. Research on model organisms has provided the foundation for our modern-day understanding of human biology, ranging from elucidating the mechanisms for transcriptional regulation to the discoveries that provided the basis for genome-wide association studies of complex human traits. Moreover, these studies, along with more recent cancer genome sequencing projects, have revealed the remarkable extent to which organisms are highly conserved for most fundamental aspects of cellular growth, and how model organism research is directly relevant to understanding human tissue development, physiology, and pathology. However, we still need to learn how best to apply model organisms across the entire spectrum of phylogeny to aspects of cancer biology for which evolution has suited them. These challenges require active discussion among biologists who normally move in different circles. We believe this meeting fills a significant gap in what is available to the scientific community. We also believe that this meeting can act as a catalyst for the type of interdisciplinary initiatives that the NIH encourages and that many see as a source of future advances in cancer biology and medicine. Each session will include two invited speakers (who also serve as session co-chairs) divided between those with a primarily model organism focus or a human/mammalian focus. In addition, four shorter talks will be chosen from the submitted abstracts, to provide opportunities younger investigators to present their work and to enable inclusion of late-breaking stories of special interest. Finally, there will be three keynote talks y world-renowned scientists (Bert Vogelstein, Eric Lander, and Angelika Amon). The meeting is expected to attract approximately 500 people. It will be held at the Omni Shoreham in Washington, DC. All meeting attendees, except local scientists, will be housed on-site and will take most meals together, to stimulate maximal interaction among them. The hotel is accessible to the handicapped and efforts have been made to encourage participation of women and under-represented minorities. The fee structure for the meeting is designed to encourage participation of young scientists.
Progress in understanding human disease and in developing treatments often comes from developing more easily studied model organisms (e.g., yeast, worms, flies, zebrafish, mouse). Genomics has taught us that many important disease processes take place in a much wider group of model organisms than was previously known. This meeting will catalyze scientific exchange and new collaborations between cancer biologists and model organism biologists, which will accelerate progress in understanding the fundamental biology of cancer, and provide the basis for novel approaches to cancer prevention and treatment.