This proposal requests NINDS support for a Gordon Research Conference on Mechanisms of Epilepsy and Neuronal Synchronization to be held August 17-22, 2014, at Mount Snow Resort in Vermont. This is the 4th meeting in this series. For the 2014 edition, the organizers have focused the meeting on topics of direct relationship to the "epilepsy benchmarks" put forward by the NINDS. Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder afflicting nearly 3 million Americans. This meeting will specifically explore cutting edge research advancing the understanding of underlying mechanisms and novel therapies for both genetic and acquired epilepsies. Given that epilepsy research encompasses virtually all major levels of biological organization, from genes and ion channels to circuits, stem cells, neurodevelopment and behavior, this meeting will include sessions that address each of these unique categories. The major purpose of this Gordon Research Conference is to bring together geneticists, molecular biologists, developmental neuroscientists, neuroanatomists, neurologists, electrophysiologists, and computational neuroscientists working on basic mechanisms related either directly or indirectly to epilepsy. Speakers will be encouraged to present their latest, unpublished research that spans the breadth of the field and sets the stage for future discoveries. The sub-theme of the current conference is Genes, Synapses and Therapeutics, and the topics to be covered include: 1) Ion channel defects in intractable types of epilepsy;2) Bring in the genes: Identification and characterization of epilepsy mutations;3) Development and maldevelopment of the central nervous system;4) Neuronal microcircuits in normal and epileptic brain;5) Stem cells to the rescue;6) Co-morbidities of network dysfunction and related disorders;7) Novel therapeutic strategies: from gene therapy to drug intervention;and 8) Disorders of inhibition and excitation: implications for epileptogenesis. All applicants will be encouraged to submit an abstract and the majority of attendees will present a talk or poster. For each session, one speaker slot will be reserved for a junior investigator defined as a postdoctoral fellow or new Assistant Professor. This meeting has, in its relatively short history, attracted investigators from across many stages of their careers, and consistently promotes the scientific development of younger investigators and women. We will continue to promote attendance and poster presentations of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at this GRC.
An estimated 3 million Americans suffer with epilepsy making it more common than multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's disease combined. This Gordon Research Conference is the pre-eminent basic science conference on epilepsy research and attracts the top investigators and students in the field. The overall aim of the conference is to bring together prominent researchers, students, and postdoctoral fellows for 5 days in an intensive, interactive environment to present and discuss state-of-the-art, unpublished findings related to basic mechanisms of epilepsy and its treatment, and to provide direction for future areas of research emphasis to ease the burden of epilepsy in the population.