This proposal is a request for support for the scientific meeting "Symposium on Model Invertebrate Systems for the Study of Stem Cells in Development and Aging," to be held as part of the Thirteenth Annual International Congress on Invertebrate Reproduction and Development (ICIRD) in July 2013 in Detroit, MI. The overall theme of the conference, "Invertebrate Reproduction and Development in the Age of Systems Biology and Stem Cell Research", lends itself well to the consideration of mechanisms of aging at both the cellular and organismal level. This symposium will particularly focus on research, currently supported by the National Institute of Aging (NIA), on new invertebrate models that have short lifespan, tractable genetics, genome sequences available or in progress, negligible or induced senescence, and tissue regeneration in adults. The symposium has been organized by Dr. Jeffrey L. Ram (the PI, Professor, Department of Physiology, Wayne State University), in collaboration with Dr. Mahadev Murthy, Program Director, NIA Division of Aging Biology (NIA-DAB), and Dr. Xiangyi Lu (Associate Professor, Environmental Health Sciences, Wayne State University) and is submitted as a U13 application (cooperative agreement) because NIH staff are collaborating in this meeting. The symposium is expected to have a significant impact as a unique opportunity to enable NIA-funded researchers on stem cells and cellular mechanisms of aging in model systems to interact directly with one another and to stimulate the interest and gain feedback from an international audience. In addition to these direct impacts on aging research, presentations of these outstanding researchers are also expected to have an impact on researchers at the conference who work on other organisms, such as mosquitos, that have human health impacts. Speakers include B Galliot, DE Martinez, A Voskoboynik, WR Jeffery, AW DeTomaso, TW Snell, HA Tissenbaum, H Jasper, R Arking, Y Yamashita, and A Bodnar, and their topics range from regeneration in Ciona (a basal chordate), to analysis of aging mechanisms in "ageless" sea urchins and their short-lived cousins, to Hydra, "the everlasting embryo ". The organizers have actively sought participation from groups traditionally underrepresented in science (the confirmed participants include more than half women and underrepresented minorities), and, as described on the conference web site, the ICIRD organizers will award registration subsidies for participants from such groups to facilitate their participation in the conference.
To maintain a high quality of life in our aging population and to repair, rejuvenate, or regenerate healthy tissue, it is important to understand the mechanisms that underlie longevity and senescence. Since aging is practically universal in all organisms, the study of these mechanisms in invertebrate model systems is expected to yield the increased knowledge we seek. The proposed symposium is a unique opportunity for NIA-supported researchers of stem cells, aging and longevity in invertebrates to interact directly with one another and to convey what they have learned to a wider international audience whose research is likely to be influenced by what they learn at this symposium.