This proposal requests partial support for the 8th International Conference on Cryptococcus and Cryptococcosis (ICCC) to be held in Charleston, SC, USA, May 1-5, 2011. Cryptococcus neoformans is an environmental organism that has become a major threat to a growing number of immunocompromised patients in today's world. Recently, the CDC estimated more than 1 million new cases/year of cryptococcosis will occur worldwide in patients with AIDS, with more than half of those affected by cryptococcosis dying of the infection 8, 2, 14. Frighteningly, during the last few years, cryptococcosis has emerged in the Vancouver Island, Canada 7, 16 and Pacific Northwest of the US 1, 3, 4 as an important disease in immunocompetent subjects. These epidemiological data underscore the potential for this fungus to continue to emerge in unexpected geographic and clinical settings. The broad and long-term goal of this conference is to bring together the world's leading researchers in this rapidly expanding field to foster cross-disciplinary discussions, research, and clinical collaborations to enhance our understanding of the mechanisms of pathogenicity of Cryptococcus and cryptococcosis.
The specific aims of this meeting will be to convene leading experts whose expertise covers critical areas within this field, as well as early career and junior investigators, students, and postdocs. We anticipate hosting 250 participants for a 4 and 1/2 day conference. The program will be structured into 9 sessions covering the diverse properties and characteristics of the pathogen as well as host susceptibility and immunity, emphasizing what makes a normal host suddenly susceptible to this disease. Importantly, the Conference will provide ample coverage of current and novel therapeutic strategies and a special forum to address clinical issues related to diverse clinical backgrounds within which clinicians from around the world operate. Each oral session will consist of 5 talks: 3 talks (20 min) followed by a 5-min discussion by leaders in the field and 2 talks selected from the abstracts (10 min) with a 5-min discussion. Abstracts from junior investigators, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows will be included among those selected for oral presentation. The Conference will host 3 poster sessions which will permit all participants to actively contribute to these topics. There will be no concurrent sessions. Every effort will be made to encourage participation by graduate students and postdocs and we will see parity with respect to women, minorities, and persons with disabilities. Childcare will be provided as needed. Proceedings of the Conference will be published in Frontiers in Mycology. The 8th ICCC is significant because focuses on an important infectious disease afflicting both immunocompromised and immunocompetent people, bringing together members of the international research community who investigate cryptococcosis. The health relatedness of this application is immediate and translational: the discussions generated and potential new collaborations will define the important basic science questions as well as forge new avenues for the development of novel prevention and treatment strategies.
In recent years, modern medical practices, a variety of surgical interventions, and the change of the environment have led to immune deficiencies and/or to an increased susceptibility to fungal disease in a significant proportion of the patient population. Yeasts such as Cryptococcus neoformans is responsible for more than one million annual cases of cryptococcosis worldwide and approximately half of the patients who suffer from this disease die. The discussions of current research at this 8th ICCC will define important questions that need to be addressed for the development of new therapeutic strategies for the control of cryptococcosis.