During fetal, neonatal and early childhood, disturbances in cerebral blood flow, metabolism and physiology are major contributors to permanent brain damage and cerebral dysfunction in children and adults. Animal models of prenatal and perinatal brain damage resulting from a variety of insults and stresses are available and continue to provide insight into the key pathophysiological, biochemical and molecular processes involved. Cellular, functional and molecular biological techniques have been applied to the study of normal and abnormal brain development. Sophisticated neuroimaging techniques in both humans and animal models have allowed the longitudinal and dynamic investigation of the evolution of brain injury. Genomics and proteomics offer an added dimension to genetic and pharmacological intervention and neuroprotection. Six previous Hershey Conference meetings held in 1997, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008 have been highly successful in not only advancing scientific knowledge, generating new ideas, developing new collaborations and advancing translational projects but have served as a huge impetus to young investigators. As a result, the Hershey Conference has matured into a unique brand name that has now gone global in its reach. Presentations at previous meetings have been published in special issues of Developmental Neuroscience and a website has been set up to increase interaction between participants. Funding for the 7th meeting is requested to continue these meetings on a biannual basis and is planned to be held in the Western regions of USA, keeping the tradition of alternating locations from West Coast, East Coast of USA and Europe. The 8th meeting will be organized and funded by European colleagues. The 7th meeting will continue the tradition of combining the ever-expanding understanding of normal and abnormal brain development with the most up-to-date techniques for evaluation and intervention. Accordingly, the major goals of the 3-day 2010 7th Hershey Conference are to advance the translation of bench studies to clinical therapies, emphasizing the need for better diagnostic surrogate markers and application of new exciting therapies to fetuses and newborn infants, both preventive and therapeutic in nature. The conference will be divided into four areas (surrogate markers, epigenetics, progenitor cells, and biostatistical approaches), two themes (didactic and investigational), and four types of interaction (lectures, posters, round-table discussion and informal). A new didactic theme will be added to the 2010 7th meeting, New Tools for Scientific Investigation that is aimed at helping investigators become familiar with new techniques. The invited keynote speakers have already committed to the conference, pending NIH support. The choice of the setting for the meeting will preserve the positive attributes of the previous Hershey meetings in that the meeting site will be relatively self-contained with accommodations, meals and meeting rooms on site to maximize informal interaction among participants and allow young investigators to meet with senior investigators and NIH program officials.
The Hershey Conference on Developmental Injury has an indirect but significant impact on public health by providing a major impetus to international collaboration, stimulating new ideas, evaluating therapies for brain injury in the developmental period and encouraging new and better trials for therapies. Because of its emphasis on the newborn infant and young children, the potential impact to the burden of disease is the greatest. Any advances made as a result of the conference may have an impact on the entire life span.