The Swine in Biomedical Research Conference 2014 will highlight the growing utility of swine models in biomedical research. In the toolbox category, gene-editing technologies based on meganucleases (ZFN, TALENs, CRISP/Cas), induced pluripotent stem cells, and next generation sequencing are just beginning to be appreciated. In the applications category, there is still much to explore beyond the pig's already proven value in immunology, nutrition, transplantation, cardiovascular disease, and orthopedics. New initiatives are warranted in zoonotic diseases, cognitive behavior, bioengineering and regenerative medicine. The pig genome has been completed and sequence information can be used to construct models to development new means of diagnosing and treating life style-related diseases. The ability to genetically modify and clone pigs further enhances the value of the pig for dissecting disease mechanisms and validating clinical therapies. Both the NIH and the USDA have recognized the need for more research in this area and have either partnered to provide funding through the Dual Purpose with Dual Benefit Program (PAR-10-276), or have announced new FOA focused on improving animal models for biomedical research, including swine (PAR-13-114). There is, however, a need to further stimulate acceptance of these models by the biomedical community, as well as to increase the interactions between clinical and non-clinical scientists. Hence, this conference has been organized to directly address these acknowledged limitations. First, the Organizing Committee has selected individuals whose research has successfully transcended both health and animal science cultures, and clinical non-clinical barriers. Second, the invited speakers will showcase investigations using the pig that demonstrate successful applications as well as promising areas that require engagement across the proposed cultural divide. Finally, we will invite USDA and NIH representations to lead discussions on integrating respective strengths into addressing critical biomedical research issues.
The Swine in Biomedical Research Conference 2014 represents the fifth in a series of timely conferences that have highlighted the utility of porcine models in biomedical research. The emergence of genetic information and the technologies to gene edit with high efficiency using meganucleases, combined with the ability to clone pigs, provides the ability to create highly relevant animal model for a wide range of human diseases. This conference will build upon the considerable energy within the biomedical community with respect to the utilization of pigs.