Conference Abstract R13 conference support is requested for the inaugural meeting of the American Initiative in Mast Cell Diseases (AIM), whose mission is to advance the research, education, and treatment of systemic mastocytosis (SM) and related mast cell diseases. Two related conferences, to be held May 1-5, 2019, are planned: 1) an investigator conference to establish a Pan-American network of physicians and scientists with expertise in mast cell diseases (to be held at Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California); and 2) a patient and caregiver conference, organized by the patient advocacy group, The Mastocytosis Society, Inc. (TMS) (to be held nearby). The investigator conference will invite 30 speakers, and at least 10 physicians-in-training, who are the next generation of physician-scientists specializing in mast cell diseases. The overarching goal of this premiere AIM investigator meeting is to establish a forum and network where basic, translational, and clinical researchers can establish collaborations that support the development of new diagnostic methods, better understanding of the biology of mast cells in human health and disease, and the testing of novel therapies. Currently, the evaluation and treatment of patients with mast cell diseases is undertaken by a cadre of subspecialists-- hematopathologists, allergists/immunologists, dermatologists, gastroenterologists, and hematologists/ oncologists. Recognizing the need to host a conference that assembles such multidisciplinary specialists, the AIM Steering Committee has designed an interactive program that brings together junior and established investigators with basic, clinical, and translational research interests. The program will include sessions on: (1) the biology of mast cells, including pre-clinical modeling of mastocytosis and identification of therapeutic targets; (2) new data on the classification, pathology, and molecular biology of mastocytosis; 3) biologic and clinical features of mast cell activation syndromes; 4) clinical heterogeneity of mast cell disorders, with a focus on pediatrics, cutaneous, bone and gastrointestinal disease; and 5) novel treatment directions, including clinical trials of the new potent and selective KIT D816V inhibitors. This inaugural AIM conference will be opened by keynote lecturer Dr. Frank Austen, a seminal researcher in the field and a special lecture will be given by Professor Peter Valent, founder of the European Competence Network on Mastocytosis (ECNM), which will provide a roadmap to inform AIM?s future initiatives. In order to encourage career development and interest in the field, we will hold a poster-board walk with trainees and junior investigators, and high-ranking abstracts will be awarded an oral presentation. Travel grants for trainees, including under-represented minorities, as well as for physicians and/or trainees from Central American, South American and Canadian regions, will be awarded. The scientific exchanges between conference attendees, and the education and advocacy provided by physicians and TMS members to patients and their caregivers in the lead-up meeting, should provide an innovative framework for future meetings of AIM, which are planned on a biennial basis.
Mast cells mediate responses to allergy, infection, and inflammation, and serve as effectors of innate and adaptive immunity, providing important insights into the pathogenesis of autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Abnormalities of mast cell growth and function can lead to systemic mastocytosis, a neoplasm characterized by excessive mast cell activation and/or organ damage, resulting in the potential for substantial morbidity and reduced life expectancy. The American Initiative in Mast Cell Diseases (AIM) has been established to synergize efforts between junior and established physician-scientists to better characterize the role of mast cells in human health and disease, to foster collaborations that accelerate the development of novel therapeutics, and to promote education and advocacy among individuals suffering from mast cell diseases.