The proposed meeting to be held at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on "Axon Guidance, Synapse Formation, and Regeneration" on September 16 - 20, 2014 will assemble leaders in the field, junior faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students to discuss new, cutting-edge developments in the areas defined in the meeting title. This proposal seeks support for the ninth of a biennial series of meetings held at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory that has emerged as the premiere meeting for this field. Topics to be discussed for the 2014 meeting will include: I. the identification and characterization of guidance signals and their receptors;ii. The dissection of the signal transduction machinery that translates activation of receptors into changes in motility;iii. The identification and characterization of signals that regulate synapse formation and synaptic specificity;IV. The identification of the signaling mechanisms by which neuronal activity sculpts patterns of synaptic connectivity;v. mechanisms of neuronal polarity and dendritic patterning;VI. The relationship between mechanisms that mediate development of neural circuits and behavior;vii. The identification of the signaling mechanisms underlying regeneration;the relationship between mechanisms and disease. Diverse experimental approaches (including cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, and electrophysiology) and systems (including various vertebrate and invertebrate model systems for investigating neural connectivity and function) will be highlighted. Given the diverse approaches currently employed in this field, communication among international researchers is essential to advance research and understanding of fundamental mechanisms that regulate wiring of the nervous system and how these mechanisms may relate to the causes and potential cures for neurological disease. Oral presentations will be selected by the session chairs in consultation with the organizers. Each session will be chaired by two leading scientists in the field. Selected speakers primarily include graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty. Three special lectures will be presented to provide essential background critical to stimulating discussion between scientists working on related but distinct areas. There will also be three poster sessions where a majority of participants can present their work. The meeting will be of moderate size, and we expect 250-350 neuroscientists in attendance.
The precise wiring of the nervous system is the foundation upon which all other aspects of brain function resides. Neuronal wiring is achieved in a series of discrete stages. First, neurons become 'polarized', extending dendrites that receive input from other neurons and a single axon that conveys information to other neurons. Next, 'axon guidance'describes the process by which the axon is guided to an appropriate target, often extending great distances through the developing brain. Once in the appropriate target region, the axon forms specialized connections with other neurons, a process that is termed 'synapse formation'. Finally, neural circuitry is refined through the elaboration or elimination of synaptic connections. Understanding these sequential processes has profound implications for human health. Regeneration of damaged axons and neural circuitry will require a clear understanding of development. Diverse neurological diseases are now being associated with defects in these processes. This conference of international scientists will meet to discuss the latest research in this important field.