The Gordon Research Conference on Glial Biology: Functional Interactions Among Glia and Neurons will host its 9th meeting in 2019 in Ventura, California. This conference brings together a diverse group of established investigators and young trainees from around the world and is widely considered the preeminent forum devoted to the topic of glial cells in health and disease. The overarching aim of the GRC on Glial Biology is to discuss cutting edge research focused on glial cell development, functional interactions between glia and other cell types and the contributions of glial cells to disease and other disorders of the nervous system. The 2019 meeting will emphasize emerging information about the molecular diversity of glial cells, between and within glial cell classes, developmental stages and disease stages. This meeting will also highlight state-of-the-art technologies that have the potential to greatly expand the ability to selectively visualize and manipulate distinct glial cell types, to gain greater insight into the diverse roles of glia in a variety of contexts. The meeting will host presentations from 41 Speakers in sessions led by 18 Discussion Leaders, representing both influential, established scientists and young investigators just beginning to embark on their independent research careers. More than half of the speakers are woman, and greater than 30% of the Speakers are young investigators within five years of establishing their own laboratories. Of note, two established female scientists will lead a timely and important discussion session (?Power Hour?) entitled Creating an inclusive lab environment: Preventing and addressing harassment and discrimination?. Participation by underrepresented minorities is being actively solicited and will be supported by available funds, and inclusion of investigators and trainees from all people groups, including underrepresented minorities and those with disabilities, will be a top priority. The support of this grant is critical to maximize trainee participation, as it funds not only the GRC, but also the trainee-led Gordon Research Seminar on Glial Biology, which will host its 3rd meeting just prior to the GRC. The GRS provides an opportunity for young scientists (graduate students and postdocs) in the field to share ideas, receive mentorship and present their work in progress via platform or poster presentations. In both the GRC and GRS, designated sessions will focus on the development and function of glia in neural circuitry and metabolic support in both the healthy and diseased brain and the broader nervous system. The dissemination of cutting edge research findings and extensive training opportunities for junior scientists enabled by this meeting are highly pertinent to the overall mission of the NIH.
Defining the diversity of glial cell types and determining how these differences impact nervous system function in health and disease is currently at the forefront of neuroscience research. Here, we aim to assemble glial biologists and neuroscientists from diverse backgrounds to discuss their most recent findings in a supportive and collaborative environment to facilitate meaningful interactions across disciplines, particularly between established researchers and trainees. This meeting will enhance our understanding of key functions of glial cells in health and disease and expose researchers to the most cutting edge technological advancements to accelerate discovery and improve human health.