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Banbury Center

Meetings Held in 2013

Please note: We do not make public any information about our current year's program.

K Vousden

February 3-6
Oxidants & Anti-Oxidants in Cancer Genesis and Treatment

Funded by:
John K. Castle; Oliver Grace Cancer Fund

Organized By:
Toren Finkel, National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland
Nicholas Tonks, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York
David Tuveson, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York
Increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) has been functionally linked to aging and cancer. It is now clear that the cellular anti-oxidant machinery can be upregulated in response to oncogenes and may confer drug resistance and “stemness”.  Such observations suggest that redox modulation may offer a new approach for selective targeting of cancer cells.  Participants in this meeting explored the chemical, biochemical and genetic facets of ROS biology in relation to cancer, with the goal of determining whether ROS can be manipulated in vivo to alter cancer pathogenesis and the response of cancer cells to therapy.

M Padilla, B Hogan

February 19-22
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Idiopathic Lung Fibrosis

Funded by:
Elizabeth Livingston Estate

Organized By:
Brigid Hogan, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
Maria Padilla, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York

diopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a devastating clinical condition for which there is no effective therapy. This meeting brought together an eclectic mix of clinical and basic scientists with the goal of stimulating ideas about the origin and progression of fibrotic lesions in IPF and how new research tools and experimental paradigms can be developed to test them and to move basic studies into the clinic. Sessions followed the traditional Banbury format of short talks and discussion, and focused extended discussions. Topics covered included: clinical progression and heterogeneity of IPF; genetic and genomic approaches; development of the peripheral lung, including lineage tracing and new mouse models; stem cells and their regeneration in relation to fibrosis; new discoveries related to fibrosis in different organ systems; role of oxidative and ER stress and senescence; the molecular biology of myofibroblasts, pericytes and other mesenchymal cells; complexities of the extracellular matrix and signaling pathways; the role of immune cells; and progress of clinical trials. 

D Plachetzki, D Grunbaum, Z Cheviron
J Marden, M Hale

February 28-March 3
Grand Challenges in Organismal Biology: Walking the tightrope between stability and change

Funded by:
Stony Brook University through a grant from the National Science Foundation

Organized By:
Dianna Padilla, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York
Brian Tsukimura, California State University, Fresno, California
Billie Swalla, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

A central paradox in biology is that animals must maintain the integration of complex developmental and functional systems while simultaneously responding and adapting to continuously changing internal and external environments.  Understanding how animals maintain the balance between integrated stability and flexibility (both short-term accommodation and long term evolutionary adaptation) is of growing importance.  However, we do not understand the functional and system-level attributes of animals that make them resilient or robust to internal or external environmental perturbation, or conversely, sensitive or fragile.  In particular, we need to understand mechanisms that mediate phenotypic responses to environmental inputs across different scales and to develop quantitative frameworks for analyzing these phenomena. Participants identified critical areas and questions that require new information or approaches, and priorities for new research agendas to address this grand challenge.

T Mitchell-Olds
March 3-6
Evolution of Plant Metabolic Diversity

Funded by:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Corporate Sponsor Program

Organized By:
Toni Kutchan, Danforth Center, St. Louis, Missouri
Robert Last, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
Anne Osbourn, John Innes Centre, Norwich, United Kingdom

This is an exciting time for investigation of specialized (secondary) metabolism in plants. Most of these specialized compounds are taxonomically restricted, making their analysis less accessible to some of the traditional tools of biology. However, studies of diverse plants are benefiting greatly from recent advances in genomics, metabolomics, reverse genetics and synthetic biology. The abundance of data across and within taxa is creating unprecedented opportunities for comparative analysis. Given the important ecological functions of these molecules, it is not surprising that examples of evolutionary plasticity and strong phenotypic diversity are being uncovered for a variety of biosynthetic pathways. This meeting focused on the evolution of specialized metabolism in plants. Participants included leaders in studies of biosynthetic pathways and researchers at the forefront of comparative genomics, evolution, systems and synthetic biology.

F Gage, H Kazazian,
A Ferguson-Smith

March 31-April 2
Transposable Elements in the Brain and Other Tissues: Prevalence and Function 

Funded by:
Dart NeuroScience and the Marie Robertson Research Fund

Organized By:
Joshua Dubnau, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York
Fred Gage, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, San Diego, California

The functions, if any, of transposable elements (TEs) in the human genome are largely unknown. However, they do cause disease by insertional mutagenesis and have been linked with neurodegenerative diseases. These include transmissible prion disorders, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, macular degeneration, fragile-X-tremor ataxia, and normal aging. There are recent reports that several types of TEs are active during normal neurogenesis in mammals and invertebrates. It has been suggested that active mobilization of transposable elements in the developing brain can produce somatic neuronal genetic heterogeneity, and that this somatic variation may contribute to neuronal diversification. Participants critically reviewed the state of the field and the meeting concluded with a session devoted to considering future lines of research, discussing how to promote this area of research and how to encourage funding by foundations and NIH.

S Pfaff, J Rothstein
April 14-16
Development and Evolution of the Human Motor System in relation to ALS & FTD

Funded by:
Greater New York Chapter of the ALS Association

Organized By:
Jeffrey Macklis, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Martin Turner, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
Lucie Bruijn, ALS Association, Washington, DC

The neurodegenerative process characteristic of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may be regarded as a system failure on several levels. The mechanisms of spread and of the variable penetrance of pathology within extramotor, upper and lower motor neuronal populations (and supporting cells) remain uncertain, but are critical to hopes of therapeutic intervention. Data suggest that wider cortical organization, local circuits, and developmental factors may be important in defining vulnerability to neurodegenerative disorders. The neocortical evolutionary changes involved in bipedalism with opposable thumbs, and the relative athleticism observed pre-morbidly among patients, have been postulated to hold particular relevance for ALS. An understanding of the development and evolution of the motor system and its frontotemporal connections has the potential to re-frame thinking on the pathogenesis of both ALS and FTD. This symposium was the first to draw together a multidisciplinary group of internationally leading neuroscientists who might not otherwise interact.


April 19-24
Communicating Science

Funded by:
Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation for Basic Research in Medicine

Organized By:
Claudia Walther, Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds, Mainz, Germany
Sandra Schedler, Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds, Mainz, Germany
The Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds has an international program of support for Ph.D. fellowships and it first brought its fellows to the Banbury Center for their annual North American retreat in 2005. It has been a great pleasure to have them return and their 2013 stay at Banbury was the sixth occasion that they have been here. At Banbury, they receive intensive instruction in matters such as giving presentations and writing papers, topics usually learned by default (and often poorly) during graduate research.

L Alphs, M Burke
April 28-30
Devloping A Neuroscience Consortium

Funded by:
ISCTM and Individual participants

Organized By:
Larry Alphs, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Titusville, New Jersey
Arthur Holden, Pharmaceutical Biomedical Research, Chicago, Illinois

There has been considerable support for developing a consortium to combine existing industry databases (with the goal to include quality data from other sources as well). Given this level of interest and support, this meeting was convened to discuss the practical issues involved and what can be done to move the project forward. The topics that were reviewed included: the goals for the Neuroscience Consortium; what might be the organizational structure of the Consortium and how might it relate to or even be integrated into existing organizations; the legal and intellectual hurdles that must be overcome to make this organization successful; the possible financial models for this organization and the major milestones and timeline for the successful development of this consortium.

D Ort, S Merchant
May 13-16
Redesigning Photosynthesis – Identifying Opportunities and Novel Ideas 

Funded by:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Corporate Sponsor Program

Organized By:
Donald Ort, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois
Sabeeha Merchant, University of California, Los Angeles, California

Nearly all other biological processes on earth depend on the ability of photosynthesis to convert solar energy into chemical energy. There is a great deal of interest in the efficiency with which photosynthesis can accomplish this as it is the basis of the yield potential of both our food and bioenergy crops. Sometimes it is stated that photosynthesis is nearly 100% efficient because under ideal conditions one photon of light can result in one photosynthetic charge separation.  But in the world’s best agricultural regions, only about 1% of the total solar energy that falls on the field during the growing season is stored as chemical energy in the plant materials at the end of the season. The key question discussed at this meeting was: Can the efficiency of solar energy capture by photosynthesis be improved even though evolution has provided very little genetic variation in the component mechanisms of photosynthesis?

July 14-16
The Emerging Intersection between Physical Sciences and Oncology

Funded by:
USC NCI Physical Sciences in Oncology Center

Organized By:
Danny Hillis, Applied Minds, Inc. Glendale, California
David Agus, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
Parag Mallick, Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford, California

This was the second occasion on which Physical Sciences in Oncology Center came to Banbury Center to report on progress and to stimulate ideas about the challenges and solutions in the detection and treatment of cancer. As before, participants were not restricted to the cancer research but included some of the foremost leaders and emerging scientists in clinical care, cancer biology, engineering, and physics. The meeting was strucured to promote interactions between members of different research areas by classifying participants into two groups: group A had a biological/clinical focus and group B had a technology/engineering focus. Members of each group were paired with a member of the other group to identify a research project of mutual interest and a potential approach for solving it. One objective was to give junior investigators an opportunity to work with more senior investigators and get direct mentorship on how to overcome the challenges associated with working in this highly interdisciplinary field.

V Lundblad, L Harrington
September 8-11
Telomeres and Disease

Funded by:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Corporate Sponsor Program

Organized By:
Mary Armanios, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
Peter Lansdorp,  University of Groningen, University Medical Centre Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands

A growing body of evidence is implicating telomeres in the pathogenesis of several important and common disorders including pulmonary fibrosis, bone marrow failure, and diabetes. However, the underlying role of telomeres in these diverse disorders is not fully understood. This discussion meeting brought scientists and clinicians together to review and critically assess current data on how telomere dysfunction contributes to disease. Participants included scientists working on telomere biology as well as in other areas that are relevant to the study of these disorders. The goal was to forge new links between fundamental biology and telomere-mediated disorders.

H Mayberg
September 15-18
Neurobiology and Clinical Study of Rapid-Acting Antidepressants

Funded by:
Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development

Organized By:
Ronald Duman, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
Carlos Zarate, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland

Mood disorders affect millions of people worldwide but a major limitation of existing pharmacotherapies is that they take weeks or months to show therapeutic effects. This lag exerts a toll on patients’ well-being and ability to function, and increases the already high risk of suicide. Therefore, rapid-onset pharmacological strategies with pronounced and sustained effects would have an enormous impact on public health. Recent studies have found that the drug ketamine produces antidepressant and antisuicidal effects within hours in treatment-resistant depressed patients. However, ketamine also produces psychotic-like symptoms, which limits its therapeutic use. A vigorous effort, both preclinical and clinical, has arisen to explore ketamine’s mechanism of action, with an eye toward developing safer alternatives. This meeting provided an opportunity to examine the critical questions and outline the steps to developing safe rapid-acting antidepressants.

B Li, D Jackson
September 22-25
Plant Reproduction

Funded by:
CSHL/DuPont Pioneer Joint Collaborative

Organized By:
Robert Martienssen, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York
Robert Meeley, DuPont Pioneer, Johnston, Iowa

This was the annual meeting of the collaborative project between the plant science group at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and scientists at DuPont Pioneer. The topic of the 2013 meeting was “Plant Reproduction”. The goals were to explore the latest advances in our understanding of sexual and asexual reproduction in crop and model plant species, and to drive discussions on current research addressing genetic, epigenetic, and population-based approaches toward manipulating key mechanisms in plant reproductive biology. As usual, one day was devoted to presentations from speakers outside the collaboration.

T Hunter
September 29-October 1
Science of Pancreatic Cancer

Funded by:
MCJ Amelior Foundation and Kotumba Capital Management LLC

Organized By:
Ronald Evans, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California
William Isacoff, University of California, Los Angeles, Califormia
David Tuveson, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York

Recent findings in pancreatic cancer science and medicine demonstrate that both neoplastic cell genetic changes and distinct features of the tumor microenvironment may serve as therapeutic vulnerabilities in this malignancy. This meeting focused on the role of the stroma in modulating therapeutic responses, and the development of new dependency pathways. Topics reviewed included vitamin D and pancreatic stellate cell activation; survival cues in the tumor microenvironment as major causes of drug resistance; methods to develop a tissue bank of the tumor microenvironment and cancer cells; and the role of genomics in addressing this disease. The meeting concluded with a discussion intended to help identify one or two important areas worthy of large-scale additional investigation.

J Hirst
October 6-9
Biguanides and Neoplasia

Funded by:
Oliver Grace Cancer Fund

Organized By:
Michael Pollak, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Kevin Struhl, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

Interest in potential roles of biguanides such as metformin in treatment and/or prevention of neoplastic disease continues to increase since the topic was last discussed at Banbury in 2011. Participants in the 2013 meeting discussed the nature of the primary site of action in mitochondria, the alterations in cellular energetics and metabolism caused by biguanides, and the genetic factors that influence these effects. Additionally, the effects of biguanides at the whole-organism level reviewed, including modulation of both inflammatory responses and the endocrine environment.  An important discussion centered on strategies for optimizing drug exposure to target tissues, which may differ from those important in diabetes treatment.  Finally, the use of preclinical findings to optimize the design of future trials was reviewed.

Q Nguyen
October 21-22
The Lustgarten Foundation Scientific Meeting

Funded by:
Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer, Bethpage, New York

Organized By:
Mila McCurragh, Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer, Bethpage, New York

This meeting provided an opportunity for investigators supported by the Lustgarten Foundation to meet, present and discuss their research. The goals of the meeting were to update the Lustgarten Foundation research community of progress in the laboratory; to evaluate performance and provide feedback for improvement; and to establish and strengthen collaborations between groups and brainstorm new ideas to push the field forward.

M Seiden, A Moran

October 23-25
Ovarian Cancer: Developing Research-Based Public Messaging on Early Detection and Screening

Funded by:
Ovarian Cancer Research Fund

Organized By:
Jeff Boyd, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Audra Moran, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, New York, New York
Michael Seiden, McKesson Specialty Health, Woodlands, Texas

Messages to the public about ovarian cancer should accurately reflect what research results currently demonstrate, as well as what might reasonably be expected in the near-term.  When the public talks about ovarian cancer and ovarian cancer research, much emphasis is placed on early detection of the disease, as well as symptoms as a means of saving lives.  In practice the matter is more complicated, depending on the type of cancer, the efficacy of the screening, and the consequences of false positives. The UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening is underway, designed to provide firm data that can be used as the basis for assessing the value of current methods of early detection of ovarian cancer. The findings of these trials will have a major impact on the ovarian cancer community and this meeting was held to review the current status of ovarian cancer screening, and what action might be taken for either positive or negative results of the UKCTOCS study, and to use these discussions as the basis for developing clearly defined messages that can help lay public understand the implications of the findings.


M Levine
October 27-30
Enhancer Biology in Health and Disease

Funded by:
Oliver Grace Cancer Fund

Organized By:
James Bradner, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts
Joanna Wysocka, Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford, California
Richard Young, Whitehead Institute, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts

There has been rapid progress in identifying transcriptional regulatory elements and the factors that occupy them. Disease-associated sequence variation occurs in some of these regulatory elements and in the factors that bind them.  This meeting brought together experts in enhancer biology to discuss the roles of regulatory elements and factors in control of gene expression programs and their impact on human health and disease.

J Watson, D Beach, K Knudsen

November 12-15
INK4a/ARF Network

Funded by:
Pfizer, Inc.

Organized By:
David Beach, University of London, London, United Kingdom
Norman E. Sharpless, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Charles J. Sherr, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee

This meeting celebrated the 20th anniversary of the discovery of the INK4/ARF locus encoding three tumor suppressor proteins that coordinate signaling of the CDK4/6-retinoblastoma (RB) and MDM2-p53 pathways. Disruption of this circuitry, frequently by deletion or silencing of INK4/ARF, is a hallmark of many cancers. The INK4/ARF locus may have evolved to physiologically restrict the self-renewal capacities and numbers of stem and progenitor cells with the attendant consequence of limiting tissue regenerative capacity, particularly as animals age. In accord with this concept, altered regulation of the INK4/ARF locus has been implicated in age-associated diseases in humans by unbiased, genome-wide analyses. Particpants in the meeting reviewed a wide-ranging set of issues relating to the evolution and biology of the locus, and its implications for therapies.

C Colantuoni, D Weinberger
December 3-5
The Adolescent Brain

Funded by:
The Allen Institute for Brain Science, The Lieber Institute for Brain Development,  the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, and the National Institute of Mental Health

Organized By:
Jay Giedd, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland
Hakon Heimer, Schizophrenia Research Forum, Providence, Rhode Island
Edward Lein, Allen Institute for Brain Science, Seattle, Washington
Nenad Sestan, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut

It has long been noted that many psychiatric disorders first make their appearance in adolescence and the transition to adulthood. Adolescence is a time of great developmental change in the human brain and it is becoming clear that the origins of at least some of these disorders lie in failures of normal brain development. Modern neuroscience has revealed a great deal about prenatal and early postnatal human brain development, but has not provided much detail about later stages of neurodevelopment. This meeting surveyed the state of knowledge about normal adolescent brain and behavior, and the apparent special vulnerability of the adolescent brain to mental disorders. The most recent data will be critically reviewed with the aim of producing an integrated account that will point out the significant gaps in our knowledge.

M Daley, A Need, E Scolnick

December 8-11
Psychiatric Genomics: Current Status, Future Strategies

Funded by:
The Stanley Research Fund

Organized By:
W. Richard McCombie, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York
Aarno Palotie, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

It has been difficult to find the genes and gene loci underlying psychiatric and other complex disorders. However, recent GWA studies and new high through-put DNA sequencing techniques have provided new promise. While there are good standards and practices to analyze GWAS data, the interpretation and analysis of sequence data is still in its infancy. This meeting brought together experts to critically assess current strategies and to outline how genome scale sequencing can be used most effectively and efficiently. Topics covered included: How can high through-put sequencing build on GWA studies? How should candidate rare risk alleles be validated? How will we ensure that data will be accessible to the community at large, while protecting the legitimate intellectual concerns of primary investigators, not to mention the privacy concerns of study subjects?

J Witkowski, S Turner, M Olson,
T Hunkapiller

December 11-13
Accelerate genomic research with privacy protections

Funded by:
Illumina, Inc.

Organized By:
Arvind Narayanan, Princeton University, New Jersey
Yaniv Erlich, Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Robert Kain, Illumina, Inc., San Diego, California

In a decade, we have gone from sequencing megabases of DNA at great cost, to sequencing gigabases at low cost. Projects on a scale unimaginable a few years ago are now possible. The data from these projects, coupled with the healthcare records and other details of the life histories of the individuals, will be the foundation for a revolution in healthcare.  One particular challenge is the personal privacy and the ultimate security of personal genome information. Even if the information is used in a de-identified manner for large-scale health studies, there is no guarantee that the information will not be traced back to the individual.  There is a danger that the dialogue about the security of an individual’s genome information will be driven by anecdotes and ill-considered reporting in scientific journals, the mainstream press, and social networks. We hope to minimize this risk by initiating a public discussion of these issues, recognizing the ethical and technical challenges of managing genomic information and suggesting possible solutions. To do so, we are bringing together scientists from the fields of human genetics, bioinformatics, cryptography, and privacy scholars.

 C. Powell, G. Bliss

December 15-17
Phelan-McDermid Syndrome: Autism due to Shank3 Mutations/Deletions

Funded by:
Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation

Organized By:
Geraldine Bliss, Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation, Houston, Texas
Ricardo Dolmetsch, Allen Brain Institute, Stanford, California
Craig Powell, University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas, Texas

The goals of this discussion meeting were to share the most current research on Shank3-related neurodevelopmental disorders and to design a plan for near-term and long-term research aimed at understanding and treating Shank3-related symptoms. A carefully selected group of scientists and clinicians from diverse backgrounds and interests discussed their most recent data and their candid thoughts on the most promising future avenues of research.  Participants shared unpublished data, future research plans, and constructive criticism of published data in the field. Discussion sessions with appointed leaders were interleaved among the talks to encourage goal-directed brainstorming that was hoped would lead to clear future objectives. It was expected that at the conclusion of the meeting, participants would come away with a clear picture of the challenges that lie ahead and strategies to overcome them.