With this R13 application we request partial funding support for the upcoming RNA Nanotechnology Gordon Research Conference (GRC) to be held in Ventura, CA on Jan 13-18, 2019, and the associated Gordon Research Symposium (GRS), to precede it on Jan 12-13. The meeting will be co-chaired by Thomas Hermann and Tushar Patel, who were elected at the first GRC on RNA Nanotechnology in February 2015 and served as the co-vice chairs of the second GRC in January 2017. RNA nanotechnology has emerged as a vigorous new field of science with important applications in medicine, biotechnology and biological materials development. RNA nanotechnology exploits the modularity of RNA 3D structure, the designability of RNA 2D structure, and the ease of RNA functionalization, to generate novel architectures capable of self-assembly into functional RNA nanoparticles for diverse applications. This GRC focuses on the design and construction of self-assembling RNA nanoparticles and their translational applications, including early disease diagnosis, development and detection of RNA biomarkers to monitor the progression of diseases, and targeting and treatment of chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes as well as infectious diseases caused by bacterial or viral pathogens. The meeting will cover a range of topics in nine sessions. Sessions on Nucleic Acid Folding and Structure and on Nucleic Acid Modeling and Computation will feature cutting-edge research on the molecular basis of nucleic acid architectures and biophysical as well as in silico approaches to study and predict folding of nanostructures. Design, assembly and characterization of nucleic acid nanostructures will be covered in separate sessions on RNA Nanostructures and DNA Nanotechnology. Emerging new applications of nucleic acid architectures as functional devices and as control elements in synthetic biology approaches will be presented in sessions on Nucleic Acid Based Sensors and Devices and RNA Synthetic Biology. Three sessions will cover the exciting new area of extracellular RNA, from the basic biology to applications for biomarker and therapeutic development, with a perspective in mind that emphasizes the significance for RNA nanotechnology development and applications. This part of the program includes sessions on Biological RNA Nanoparticles, Extracellular RNA Based Diagnostics and on Synthetic and Biological Nucleic Acid Based Nanotherapeutics which will provide perspectives on discovery, isolation and application of RNA from extracellular vesicles with an emphasis on translational aspects of synthetic as well as biological RNA in therapeutic and diagnostic development. For the planning of the 2019 conference emphasis is given in a program with an increased representation of women and minority scientists. The invited speakers and discussion leaders will include a mix of established researchers in the field as well as exceptional junior-level investigators from around the world. The meeting will be advertised to a diverse audience to include early career and under-represented minority scientists in the field.
RNA is a structurally and functionally versatile material, native to living systems, that is readily accessible from biological and synthetic sources and highly adaptable for construction of self-assembling nanostructures of defined size, structure and composition. The 2019 Gordon Research Conference on RNA Nanotechnology will provide a venue to promote cross-disciplinary interactions among scientists from diverse backgrounds to advance RNA-based modalities for sensitive and early detection, diagnosis, and targeted treatment of disease. The conference will highlight new discoveries regarding how human cells use RNA to communicate and signal intra- and inter-cellularly, to inspire new translational applications for RNA-based diagnostics and therapeutic interventions.