The biennial Conferences on Hemoglobin Switching were initiated in 1978 initially with support by NIDDK and NHLBI and have been held thereafter with support by NIDDK, NHLBI and other Institutes of NIH without interruption for 31 years. There are multiple reasons for the resounding success of these Conferences. First and foremost, the Conference organizers (in the past Stamatoyannopoulos and Nienhuis;currently Stamatoyannopoulos, Higgs and Engel) strive to identify and then highlight new discoveries by always including new investigators and studies that impinge on the process of the developmental control of globin genes and the developmental control of hematopoiesis. Second, this is the only venue that brings together basic scientists and clinicians to discuss both the molecular and developmental origins of the hemoglobinopathies, and the development of molecular and cellular treatments. Third, these Conferences have launched the careers of all the current leaders in this field who as postdoctoral fellows and young faculty first presented their work in plenary sessions of the Conferences. Fourth, this is the only Conference on this topic with postdoctoral fellows and students representing over 50% of the participants. Fifth the Conference has consistently provided a Forum for plenary presentations by women and minority investigators. Sixth the Conference is the main international event in this field as illustrated by the attendance of investigators from both inside and outside the US, and by the biennial rotation of its site between the USA and Europe. In 2010 the Conference on Hemoglobin Switching will be held at St. John's College, Oxford UK, where the previous Conferences in Europe have been held.
Project Narrative The most common inherited human diseases worldwide are the thalassemias and sickle cell disease, we understand the genetics and molecular biology of these diseases but we are only at the beginning of devising effective therapies to treat them. This International Conference, held every two years, is the only meeting of its kind, and provides a Forum for sharing information between molecular and cell biologists who study disease mechanisms and their clinical counterparts who treat these diseases. This conference is also consciously more inclusive of young people, women and minorities than any other roughly comparable Forum.