We propose to organize and support the 2011 Gordon Research Conference and Gordon Research Seminar on Elastin and Elastic Fibers to be held July 23-29, 2011 at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. This is the leading international research conference on elastin and elastic fibers, which are critical components of the vasculature, lung, skin and other elastic tissues. The conference will open with the latest findings on the protein structure of elastic fiber components including fibrilins, fibulins, LTBPs and tropoelastin monomers and their assembly in vitro and in vivo. Building on this structural basis, we will next learn the latest findings about unexpected roles of elastic fiber components in controlling the bioavailability and activation of growth factors critical for development, tissue homeostasis, wound healing, and tissue regeneration. Next, leading investigators will present the latest findings in human genetic diseases of elastic fiber components and how these offer insights into protein function and assembly. Sessions on acquired human diseases of elastic fibers follow, spanning the vasculature, lung, and skin, and offering new insights into the roles of elastin-producing stem cell populations critical for tissue homeostasis and repair. These translationally-oriented sessions focus on the roles of elastic fiber components in the pathogenesis of diseases including bronchopulmonary dysplasia, COPD, systemic and pulmonary hypertension, aneurysms, and acquired skin disorders including UV damage-induced loss of dermal elasticity and dermal calcification. The conference culminates in sessions on the development of elastin- based biomaterials, their structural and biophysical properties, and their applications to regenerative medicine. The specific objectives and anticipated impact of the combined GRS/GRC conference in 2011 are: 1) To gather diverse (gender, nationality, career stage and working environment) investigators from multiple disciplines together for a focused, comprehensive conference presenting the latest findings and ideas in elastin and elastic fiber research. 2) To foster collaborative opportunities between investigators which will inspire and facilitate multidisciplinary, systems biology and translational approaches to investigating protein structure and fibrillar assembly, the pathogenesis of acquired and genetic elastic fiber diseases in the vasculature, lung and skin, and progress in the development of elastin-based biomaterials and their application to regenerative medicine. 3) To encourage and mentor new trainees through the new Gordon Research Seminar toward career success in elastic fiber-related research and support them through travel and excellence awards.
The 2011 Gordon Research Conference and Gordon Research Seminar on Elastin and Elastic Fibers will explore the latest research in elastic tissues and their diseases. Common diseases involving elastic fibers are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hypertension, aneurysms, stroke, atherosclerosis, UV damage to the skin, inherited skin disorders including cutis laxa, inherited musculoskeletal disorders such as Marfan's syndrome, and loss of normal elasticity in tissues with aging and UV exposure. The conference attracts scientists from different disciplines and provides unique opportunities to develop integrative approaches to important questions about normal and impaired elastic fiber assembly, and the genetic basis for dominant, recessive and polygenic disorders involving elastic fiber tissues. The program has a strong translational focus with sessions highlighting the latest findings and strategies for defining the pathogenesis of acquired vascular, lung and skin diseases and new prospects for regenerative medicine.