This application seeks funds for partial support of the three consecutive biennial Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology (FASEB) Science Research Conferences on the The Biology and Chemistry of Vision. Since its inception in 1985, this has been one of the most successful and influential meetings focused on photoreceptor biology. The major goal of the meeting is to bring together established and young scientists to discuss the most recent advances in the broad and diverse fields of photoreceptor biology and pathobiology. The relatively small number of attendees (typically under 150 participants) is designed to catalyze scientific interchange by combining high- quality, formal presentations of novel experimental results with informal interactions in a friendly, collegial atmosphere. The meeting also has tremendous educational and networking value for younger investigators in the field. Accordingly, the funding requested in this application will be used for covering the travel expenses and conference fees for the young scientists, including pre- and post-doctoral trainees and junior investigators who have not yet received NIH funding to support their research programs. The program of each conference will provide a critical overview of the most recent research in the field, address timely questions and emerging trends, and serve as a catalyst for collaborations and future work. Along these lines, the 2015 conference will have nine platform and two poster sessions covering the broad fields of photoreceptor biology and chemistry. The first session will address the structure, function and genetics of retinal proteins. The second will open the theme of photoreceptor cell biology by covering the functional interactions between photoreceptors and the retinal pigment epithelium. The third will consider photoreceptor synaptic mechanisms. The fourth, intended as an inspirational highlight of the meeting, will provide historical context for the most critical breakthroughs in the field, cover current trends and consider future programmatic goals for the field. The fifth will highlight photoreceptor function and degeneration in the broader context of ciliary cell biology. The sixth will address the whole array of modern approaches to visual function restoration, from gene therapy to stem cells. The seventh will discuss the current advances in photoreceptor pathobiology. The eighth will cover new mechanisms of photoreceptor regulation, with a particular focus on the role of non-coding RNAs. And the last short session will be reserved to present the most exciting late-breaking news from the field. Our program is designed to maximize participation of trainees, young investigators and scientists from underrepresented groups. In addition to traditional formats of regular and short talks, sixteen trainees will presen five-minute highlights of their poster presentations at the popular Data Blitz sessions, held prior to each of the two poster sessions.
Diseases of the retina affect approximately three million Americans, about 1 million of whom are blind. In many of these conditions, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy and retinitis pigmentosa, blindness is caused by the loss of rod and cone photoreceptor cells. Therefore, the prospect of therapeutic treatments for a wide array of these conditions depends on scientific advances in our understanding of the biochemistry, physiology, cell biology, molecular biology and genetics of photoreceptor function. Of critical importance in accomplishing this goal is the open exchange of new research findings among the community of vision scientists. The FASEB Science Research Conference on Biology and Chemistry of Vision is the premier meeting in the field of photoreception. This biennial conference attracts the leading investigators in the field and is well- attended by young investigators, postdoctoral fellows, and students. It represents unique opportunities to propel new developments in vision research, articulate pressing questions and foster new collaborations.