Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Top Fungal Disease Experts Meet in Texas, USA

A fine-tuned immune response to fungal infection is critical, as either insufficient or exaggerated responses compromise each person’s ability to fight fungal infection and not develop fungal allergy.
Last week saw a gathering of the world’s top immunologists (experts in the immune system) in the fungal disease field in Galveston, Texas to share and challenge the latest data on how the immune system interacts with fungi, at the first Gordon Conference on the “Immunology of Fungal Infection”. The meeting was organised and chaired by Gordon Brown (Aberdeen) with co-chairs Luigina Romani (Perugia) and Stuart Levitz (Boston). 

The complexity of the immune system is daunting, but with sustained research efforts by many stellar groups, we are starting to really understand how the body fights infection, and what goes wrong, allowing infection or allergy. The last few years has seen significant advances in our understanding of the innate and adaptive components underlying the protective and non-protective mechanisms of immunity. These discoveries allow a better understanding of immunodeficiency and disease susceptibility, and provide a means to develop novel approaches for immunotherapy and vaccination. Similarly important is the contribution of fungi to the plasticity of the immune system, from tolerance to autoimmunity.

Sadly it isn't possible to write about the many in depth presentations and conversations that took place at this meeting as it is a condition of the Conference that everything that is said is private, which helps everyone to relax and talk openly and thus maximise the possibilities of progress.
Gordon Research Conferences (GRC) bring together the world's leading researchers to promote cross-disciplinary discussions and research collaborations. The first Gordon Conference was held in the late 1920's when the founder Dr. Neil E. Gordon, of the Johns Hopkins University realised the difficulties scientists had when trying to discuss state-of-the-art research with each other. Dr Gordon started a series of week long informal meetings designed to promote excellent, direct communication between leaders of the field in question, and between scientists from different research fields who could benefit from an interdisciplinary approach.

The original concept devised by Dr Gordon has now expanded to include many different locations across the world with between 50 and 80 conferences held every year - see a short history of Gordon Conferences here.
There will be as second GRC on the Immunology of Fungal Infection in January 2013, also in Galveston, Texas.

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