September 30, 2008

Fondation IPSEN: “Cell Shape and Polarity: Lymphocytes and Beyond”

La Fondation IPSEN and Nature Publishing Group share the same desire to help new scientific knowledge emerge and facilitate the exchange of the most promising ideas from a variety of different research areas. In 2007, the two organisations came together to create a new series of scientific events - the Emergence & Convergence mini-symposia - one-day meetings highlighting some of the most dynamic sectors in biological and medical research. The fifth meeting in Chicago on September 29 discussed a particularly important area in immunology research: the function of cell polarity. The meeting was organized by Christine Borowski (Nature Immunology, USA), Alison Schuldt (Nature Cell Biology, UK) and Yves Christen (La Fondation IPSEN, France).

Asymmetric cell division and polarized synapse formation influence the differentiation and function of many cell types, including lymphocytes. The extent to which the molecular mechanisms underpinning these processes differ among cell types remains unclear. Also not completely understood is how these processes control cell fate and behavior. Although all actively involved in researching the causes and consequences of asymmetric cell division and cell polarization, the speakers at this Emergence & Convergence mini-symposium investigate distinct cell types and experimental systems. As insights gained in one cell type might be useful in propelling forward understanding of another, this meeting brought together immunologists and non-immunologists with the aim of fostering interdisciplinary discussion and collaboration.

Speakers at the meeting were leading international experts: Michael L. Dustin (New York University, USA), Gillian M. Griffiths (University of Cambridge, UK), Gregg Gundersen (Columbia University, USA), Juergen A. Knoblich (Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, Austria), Matthew Krummel (University of California - San Francisco, USA,) Ian G. Macara (University of Virginia School of Medicine, USA), Steven L. Reiner (University of Pennsylvania, USA), Andrey S. Shaw (Washington University School of Medicine, USA)

Each meeting in the Emergence & Convergence series brings together a group of speakers to address a topic of strong current interest and one which has elements both of new advances in the field - 'emergence' - and a developing consensus on the importance and integration of the new advances with existing understanding - 'convergence'. Where applicable, meetings are cross-disciplinary in nature to facilitate and promote collaboration. The first four mini-symposia in the series discussed: "Small RNAs in Development, Immunology and Cancer" (New York, October 2007), "Genome Evolution and Structural Variation: Next Steps in Natural Human Genetic Variation" (Seattle, November 2007), "Epigenetics and Behavior" (Houston, March 2007) and "Multiple Sclerosis: From Pathogenesis to Therapy" (Paris, June 2008).

About La Fondation IPSEN

Established in 1983 under the aegis of the Fondation de France, the mission of La Fondation IPSEN is to contribute to the development and dissemination of scientific knowledge. The long-standing action of La Fondation IPSEN is aimed at furthering the interaction between researchers and clinical practitioners, which is indispensable due to the extreme specialisation of these professions. The ambition of La Fondation IPSEN is not to offer definitive knowledge, but to initiate a reflection about the major scientific issues of the forthcoming years. It has developed an important international network of scientific experts who meet regularly at meetings known as Colloques Medecine et Recherche, dedicated to six main themes: Alzheimer's disease, neurosciences, longevity, endocrinology, the vascular system and cancer science. In 2007, La Fondation IPSEN started three new series of meetings. The first is in partnership with the Salk Institute and Nature and is an annual meeting which focuses on aspects of Biological Complexity; the second is the "Emergence and Convergence" series, and the third is with Cell and the Massachusetts General Hospital entitled "Exciting Biologies". Since its beginning, La Fondation IPSEN has organised more than 100 international conferences, published 67 volumes with renowned publishers and close to 200 issues of a widely distributed newsletter Alzheimer Actualites. It has also awarded more than 100 prizes and grants.

About Nature Publishing Group

Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd, dedicated to serving the academic, professional scientific and medical communities. NPG's flagship title, Nature, was first published in 1869. Other publications include Nature research journals, Nature Reviews, Nature Clinical Practice, and a range of prestigious academic journals including society-owned publications. NPG also provides news content through Nature News and scientific career information through Naturejobs. The company has a growing conference series. NPG is a global company with headquarters in London and offices in New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, Boston, Tokyo, Paris, Munich, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Delhi, Mexico City and Basingstoke. For more information, please go to