Natural products research is undergoing a transformative period driven by genomics, advances in our understanding of the molecular genetics of natural product biosynthesis, chemical biology solutions to identifying molecular targets and mechanism of action, and new analytical techniques for molecular structure determination. In particular, natural products from marine organisms have delivered unique molecular scaffolds that interact with cellular macromolecules and pathways, altering phenotype and physiology in ways not seen by molecules from other sources. In addition to informing scientists of how biological systems function, the role of natural products as ligands with highly specific affinities for disease-relevant targets has presented opportunities for designing therapies for human disease including cancer, neurological disorders, and many infectious pathogens. With this proposal, support is requested for the 2020 Marine Natural Products Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) and Gordon Research Conference (GRC) to be held in Ventura, California on February 22-28, 2020. The GRS is a unique forum for graduate students and postdocs to present and exchange new data and cutting-edge ideas encompassing the field of marine natural products with applications that range from basic science discoveries to human health impacts. The GRC will bring together early career and established researchers from academia, industry, and government (including all of the GRS participants) to address the discovery, characterization and functional development of marine natural products. Presentations and discussion will focus on how natural products modulate cellular processes and present opportunities to treat human disease; applications of natural product research to medicine and marine conservation; cutting-edge techniques in natural product structure elucidation, synthesis, and determination of modes of action; and the biosynthetic origin of marine natural products including genome mining, heterologous expression, and genetic advances to facilitate the expression of silent gene clusters. Graduate students and postdocs will gain experience in poster and oral presentations at the short-format GRS immediately prior to the GRC, and thus be poised to develop career opportunities and new collaborations during the GRC via direct interaction with established leaders in the field. The collegial atmosphere of the GRS and GRC will facilitate new research directions and training opportunities for early career scientists, and the exchange of ideas among leaders in the field and new participants. NIH support will be directed towards participation of graduate student and postdoctoral presenters and discussion leaders at the GRS and GRC, and female and under-represented minority presenters at the GRC.
Genetically encoded secondary metabolites produced by diverse organisms, also known as natural products, are modulators of biological systems used to treat human disease and to understand human physiology including manifestation of disease. The 2020 Marine Natural Products Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) and Gordon Research Conference (GRC) will gather close to 200 students, postdocs, early career and established investigators to share discoveries and new research ideas in a discussion-intense, highly interactive forum with a scientific program that emphasizes the role of natural products in infectious disease, cancer, modulation of pain and immune function, and novel methodologies for identifying bioactive natural products and understanding how they work.