Hormone Scientists Head for the Mountains

Lange, Carol 2016

Hormone researchers from around the world will be descending on Snowmass Village, Colo., in June for the FASEB Science Research Conference focused on steroid hormone receptors. Conference co-organizer Carol Lange, PhD, tells us why endocrine scientists dedicated to this field should attend.

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) is hosting its Science Research Conference June 11–16 in Snowmass Village, Colo. The conference, “Rapid Signaling & Genomic Hormone Action in Health & Disease” is a five-day event that will focus on nuclear and steroid hormone receptor and signaling pathway crosstalk in cancer, metabolism, neuroscience, immunology, and reproduction.

Conference co-organizer Carol Lange, PhD, professor in the Department of Medicine and Pharmacology at the University of Minnesota, encourages researchers from all basic sciences to attend the conference and explore this expanding topic. Endocrine News spoke with Lange to learn more about this year’s agenda.

EN: What are the major goals of the conference and what should Endocrine Society members find most interesting?

CL: Historically, research emphasis in the field of steroid signaling has been placed primarily on nuclear, or transcriptional, effects of steroid hormone receptors (SRs). However, it is now recognized and well accepted that nuclear SRs that trigger short- and long-term changes in cellular physiology through the regulation of gene expression, also mobilize cytoplasmic signaling pathways through rapid actions initiated by plasma membrane-bound receptors. In fact, extra-nuclear, or transcription-independent SR signaling has been shown to regulate a myriad of biological processes relevant to human health and disease.

The major aims of this conference are to: 1) highlight recent research discoveries in the context of integrated SR actions relevant to health and disease; 2) further existing research interactions and foster new, exciting partnerships that will advance knowledge and foster innovative ideas; and 3) promote the career development of young or emerging scientists and trainees to ensure the continued vibrancy of our field. We believe these activities will ultimately lead to new approaches for maintaining health and preventing or fighting SR-driven diseases including hormonally regulated cancers.

EN: Your keynote speaker is Mitchell Lazar from the University of Pennsylvania, and his address is titled “Circadian Metabolism in the Light of Evolution.” What made Dr. Lazar the best fit for the keynote address?

CL: Dr. Lazar’s research is focused on the mechanisms of circadian transcription and is highly relevant to understanding human physiology in health and in disease states as a product of the integrated action of both genetic and epigenetic gene regulation.

As our meeting topic broadly includes this concept — that rapid signal transduction events impact gene regulation (i.e., primarily by epigenetic events) — we wanted to host Dr. Lazar who is doing cutting-edge and high-impact research. Not only is he a world- renowned scientist who is likely to draw people to our meeting, we think his work fits our overarching themes very well.

Also, this meeting in the past has had a heavy emphasis on steroid hormone receptors as a subset of the nuclear receptor (NR) family members and we wanted to expand to include a broader range of NR actions because we think similar and overlapping mechanisms are at play — all NRs interact with signaling pathways. Inviting new and diverse scientists to the meeting with slightly tangential and overlapping research interests will improve our overall understanding of mechanisms of gene regulation by NRs and increase opportunities for exchange of new ideas and initiate new collaborations.

EN: Conference organizers are encouraging attendees to consider journal submissions. What research topics are currently garnering the most interest from journal editors?

CL: The journal Steroids has been a long-time supporter of this meeting and they have offered to support trainees to come to this meeting and we will encourage submissions to Steroids as we have in the past. While presenters are not obligated to submit to Steroids, it is a great venue for this work to appear as a collection after the meeting concludes — all aspects of rapid and integrated NR signaling are encouraged.

Having said that, there are likely to be some hot topics that emerge from the meeting, such as the role of collaborating or interacting nuclear and steroid hormone receptors in the regulation of metabolism as well as in cancer models.

EN: What else can attendees expect from the Science Research Conferences? How many scientists do you expect to gather?

CL: Our conference typically attracts between 60 and 70 attendees.  And what’s important to note is that a group of this size becomes very close by week’s end. Real collaborations take place during our conferences. When you have an intimate group of researchers with common interests together for such a long period, long-term relationships are formed. I especially encourage young scientists to attend because they have a perfect opportunity to meet career mentors who will be of huge benefit to their professional growth.

We’re also looking forward the location at Snowmass, Colorado. Snowmass is a beautiful, small resort town in the mountains. It’s common for our attendees to enjoy hikes and other outdoor activities during breaks in the agenda. It’s always a very rewarding experience.

Fauntleroy is a freelance writer based in Carmel, Ind., and a regular contributor to Endocrine News. She wrote about how to get research published in last month’s Laboratory Notes column.

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