This proposal requests support for partial funding for the 2012 "Barriers of the Central Nervous System (CNS)" Gordon Research Conference (GRC) and accompanying Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) that will be held at Colby Sawyer College, New Hampshire, on June 16 -17, 2012 (GRS) and June 17 - 22, 2012 (GRC). The overall goal of this international conference is to increase understanding of the basic mechanisms underlying the structure and function of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) systems (i.e., brain vasculature, choroid plexus epithelium, arachnoid membrane) in health and disease and to explore strategies for overcoming these barriers to improve treatment of human disease. One of the major discussion topics covered by this conference is how barrier systems limit therapeutic efficacy for many potentially active CNS drugs by preventing them from reaching active concentrations at their sites of action within the CNS. Disruption of barrier systems also plays critical roles in many CNS disease processes, including stroke, brain tumors, brain trauma, CNS infection, autoimmune disease, and neurodegenerative disease.
The specific aim of the "Barriers" GRC is to bring together international experts as well as young investigators, postdocs, and students from across the world with a broad range of interests in barrier issues for a five-day conference focused on cutting edge topics in the barriers field in the isolated setting of Colby Sawyer College. The program will include 2 Keynote Lectures and 8 sessions that address: Barrier Structure and Function, Barrier Permeability and Signaling, Barrier Transporters, Drug Delivery, Barrier Alterations in Disease, Angiogenesis and Brain Tumors, Barrier Imaging, and Other Barrier Systems. The "Barriers" GRC fills a critical niche which otherwise does not exist among other major international and national conferences to bring together barrier scientists from diverse fields and countries for a focused meeting on barrier issues. The "Barriers" GRC will be accompanied by a 2-day (Saturday/Sunday) "Barriers" GRS, organized by junior investigators at the postdoctoral level, which is intended to introduce younger scientists (postgraduate students, post-docs, junior faculty) to the relevant methods and issues of the field and to facilitate networking between junior and more senior researchers. The first GRS on this subject was held in 2010 and was very successful. The importance of this application is highlighted by the fact that this Gordon Conference is one of only 2 international conferences held on this specific topic, in a cycle of alternating years. The application has significant relationship to health, in that the presentations and discussions will help to define te role of the barriers in the development and progression of CNS diseases and will identify novel strategies to overcome barrier systems to improve treatment and prevention of neural disorders.
The "Barriers of the CNS" Gordon Research Conference and accompanying Research Seminar will help scientists from across the world to better understand the function of the brain barrier systems in health and disease, and, through this knowledge, to develop improved strategies to overcome the barriers for the treatment of human CNS diseases. It is estimated that >98% of potential drug candidates for treatment of brain diseases are prevented from reaching the brain by the restrictive transport properties of the blood-brain barrier. This conference will allow scientists to challenge established dogmas in focused discussions, explore new areas of future promise or need, and to mentor new scientists in the field for future development.