The 2016 Gordon Research Conference on Membrane Transporters titled ?Translating Molecules to Medicine? will bring an urgently needed translational focus to research on clinically relevant and highly druggable membrane transporters. Although they account for 10% of the human genome and contribute to a gamut of highly prevalent (autism, diabetes) as well as orphan and rare diseases (Mucolipidosis type 4, Christianson syndrome), membrane transporters remain largely untapped in their potential as therapeutic targets. The nine scientific sessions are highly interdisciplinary, bringing together topics and techniques that are not conventionally related: these include stem cell technology, 3D organoids, virtual mining of the chemical universe for inhibitors, and single molecule dynamics, as examples. Ample discussion time after each talk, daily poster sessions and afternoon free time allow plenty of opportunity for informal discussion, networking and forming new collaborations. A special Pharma session will help build consortia between industry and academics to tackle challenges in the drug development pipeline. The Keynote session will feature the GRC Alexander M. Cruickshank Lecture awardee, Dr. Nieng Yan, whose recent landmark high-resolution structures of human glucose transporters have captured the challenges and opportunities of this membrane transporter field. Approximately 150 participants will be drawn from industry, academia, research institutions and government and will span all career levels, ranging from early career investigators (graduate students, postdoctoral fellows) projected to comprise 50% of attendees, to mid-career and senior scientists and professors. This mix offers an ideal opportunity for vertical and peer mentoring, and networking, essential for the future health and productivity of this field. For the first time, we will host a pre-conference Graduate Research Seminar organized by, and exclusively for, young investigators. The GRS will include poster sessions, short talks and a Careers Panel with invited leaders from pharma, academia and publishing sectors, with a goal of fostering scientific and professional development and instilling confidence and leadership skills in student trainees and fellows. The organizers are committed to promote diversity and inclusion of women, minorities and persons of disability. To this end, our goal is to achieve gender parity (50%) in speakers and discussion leaders, and to increase the visibility of all underrepresented groups. Another innovative feature of this conference, the Power Hour, is a forum designed to address challenges that women face in science. To foster international reach, participants have elected to alternate the location of the conference between the US and Europe. Most recently, the conference was held in Vermont, and in 2016 the venue is Italy. The GRC provides seed money and negotiates costs directly with the conference site, to keep expenses at a minimum. This application seeks partial funding to cover registration costs for invited speakers, including women and minorities, and young investigators.
Membrane transporters move ions, metabolites, nutrients, neurotransmitters and therapeutic drugs that are central to both life and death, into and out of cells and organellar compartments. They are the targets of blockbuster drugs to treat wide spread diseases like diabetes, cancer and depression, as well as orphan diseases and rare genetic disorders. The Gordon Research Conference on Membrane Transporters: Translating Molecules to Medicine will bring together scientists from industry, academia and government to focus on translating advances in basic science to therapies that benefit patients.