Virtually all cells in the human body form gap junctions. These structures are membrane channels composed of proteins (connexins) that connect apposing cells and provide for the direct movement of small molecules between cells. Over 20 human diseases are linked to mutations in connexins. The most well-known role of cell communication is in synchronizing the beating of myocardial cells within the heart. Disruption of cell communication in the heart is strongly linked to arrhythmia and sudden death in a range of cardiac diseases. More recently, a structurally related group of proteins called pannexins have been found to be critical to the vasculature in health and disease. With the rapid developments in the field, investigators have found recurring targeted scientific meetings to be especially valuable forums for the exchange of ideas and techniques that pave the way for scientific discovery. This application requests funds for the 2013 International Gap Junction Conference, to be held in Charleston, South Carolina July 13- 18. This conference represents the 14th in a unique series of biennial interdisciplinary meetings focused on gap junctions and allied signaling mechanisms. The NHLBI funded an R13 in support of the International Gap Junction Conference the last time it was convened in the USA in 2009. The overall goals of this meeting are to achieve a better understanding of connexins, pannexins, and gap junctions in both normal and diseased states, with the overarching goal of identifying novel pharmacological approaches to target these proteins. The cardiovascular system will be a particular emphasis of the meeting. The meeting organizers Drs. Gourdie, Koval, Isakson and Mauldin have a strong track record in conference organization. Drs Gourdie, Koval and Isakson are established investigators in the area of connexin, innexin and/or pannexin biology. The meeting will place particular emphasis on innovative developments in the field and uses a number of novel approaches in promoting the IGJC meeting. A majority of the requested funds are in support of student and trainee participation. Additionally the meeting will provide a continuing forum for the fostering of productive collaborations and attracting students and postdoctoral trainees from diverse backgrounds to the gap junction field.

Public Health Relevance

More than 20 human diseases are linked to mutations in connexins, the subunit of gap junction (GJ) channels and disrupted GJs in the heart are thought to cause arrhythmia and sudden death. New science in this area has enabled the development of therapies and drugs that work by targeting gap junctions and allied signaling mechanism. In order to provide a venue to share ideas and experiences with fellow scientists conducting research in gap junction channels, a request is made for financial support for the 2013 International GJ Conference in Charleston, SC - the 14th meeting in a 26 year series in which medical scientists from academia and industry along with students, post-docs and other trainees have gathered to share the latest advances, including the targeting of diseases resulting from GJs dysfunction..

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Conference (R13)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZHL1-CSR-I (F1))
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Krull, Holly
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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
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United States
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