The proposal seeks partial support for the second biennial Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on the Cerebellum, to be held at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH, USA, in August 2013. The cerebellum is a brain region that regulates movements and carries out complex behaviors such as sequencing of actions. Its dysfunction is associated with motor disorders, including ataxias, dystonia, and dyskinesia, as well as cognitive impairments, including dyslexia and autism spectrum disorder. Cerebellar research spans many levels of analysis, encompassing molecular biological, genetic, cellular physiological, systems physiological, anatomical, behavioral, computational, and clinical approaches. Although many researchers engaged in the study of the cerebellum have common research questions and scientific goals, they have few opportunities to meet as a group and discuss their work with investigators who apply diverse methodologies to the common question of how the cerebellar works in normal and pathophysiological conditions.
The aims of the Cerebellum GRC are to provide the venue for cerebellar researchers to present and discuss their hypotheses, results, and discoveries;to bring together scientists from multiple career stages and different backgrounds, who otherwise would be unlikely to have the opportunity to interact closely;and to develop scientific relationships that will lead to collaborative work and new approaches to investigating the cerebellum in health and disease.
These aims will be achieved by 9 sessions of oral presentations by leaders in the field and up-and-coming junior investigators, ample discussion time with active facilitation of participation by young scientists and trainees, poster presentations for maximal exposure of all attendees'research, and unstructured time between scientific sessions for in-depth, spontaneous discussions. Inclusion of sessions, such as animal models of cerebellar disease, human cerebellar function, and emerging technologies to study the cerebellum promise, not only generate a healthy exchange of ideas but also educate investigators about how their work pertains to and can best be brought to bear on the treatment of neurological and mental disorders.
The 2013 Gordon Research Conference on the Cerebellum will bring together scientists who are studying the cerebellum, a brain structure that is involved in regulating muscle movements as well as determining the logical sequence of complex actions. The exchange of information that will take place at this conference will allow scientists and their trainees to learn from a diverse set of researchers, so that they can start to apply new ideas and technical methods to their studies directed toward understanding the cerebellum - how it develops from birth to adulthood, how it coordinates muscle movements, how it contributes to learning complicated series of movements, how it participates in cognitive function, among others. Since disruption of cerebellar function by hereditary disorders or physical damage can produce conditions such as ataxia, dystonia, dyslexia, and autism, the communication and discussion of ideas that will be fostered at this Conference will be central to developing strategies to combat these diseases.