All living organisms depend on the transport of inorganic ions and organic solutes across cellular membranes. An extremely diverse collection of membrane transport proteins together account for the flux of a wide range of molecules, including sugars, amino acids, metabolites, peptides, neurotransmitters, toxins and drugs. Further, membrane transport proteins not only contribute to physiologically important processes from nutrient absorption to nitrogen metabolism, renal function and synaptic transmission, but also play a key role in many human diseases from cancer to mental illness. However, technical limitations associated with the analysis of membrane proteins and transporters in particular has previously limited progress in our understanding of these fascinating and important proteins. On the other hand, recent advances in structural biology and functional analysis now enable investigators to address the molecular basis of transport in a physiological context, spurring rapid growth in the field. The long-term objective of this conference is to increase our understanding of the molecular mechanism, physiological role and contribution to disease of membrane transport proteins. This application seeks partial support for the 7th and 8th Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Membrane Transport Proteins to be held in 2010 and 2012, respectively. To include a large European community focusing on transporters, it has been decided to alternate between European and US venues: the conference will return to the University of New England in 2010 (August 15- 20) and tentatively to Il Ciocco, Italy in 2012. This conference brings together researchers working on many different systems with a wide variety of experimental approaches. In addition to providing exposure to recent research, it will thus foster the exchange of ideas and promote the development of collaborations across fields and methodological disciplines. The sessions planned will cover a broad spectrum of membrane transport proteins including ion pumps, ABC (ATP binding cassette) transporters, amino acid transporters, intracellular transporters, neurotransmitter transporters and ion channels. In addition, the speakers will describe a diversity of techniques and approaches, from structural biology and biophysics to animal models and genetics. Two evening poster sessions will allow all the participants to share the results of their work. The conferences will conclude with a plenary lecture that integrates work on the molecular and cellular analysis of membrane transport proteins with physiology and disease.
This application requests partial support for 2 five-day Gordon Research Conferences in 2010 and 2012, which will focus on membrane transport proteins in normal physiology and disease. To promote our understanding of these fascinating and important but enigmatic proteins, the conferences will bring together investigators from a wide range of fields with diverse experimental approaches. As a result, the conferences will disseminate recent developments in the field, and foster collaboration between investigators who might not otherwise intersect.