While historically somewhat neglected, investigations in lymphatic biology have experienced a dramatic growth within the last several years, in large part ascribable to the discovery of growth factors regulating this system and availability of enhanced techniques and tools for these investigations. There is an unprecedented need for investigators of basic researchers, physiologists, biomedical engineers and physicians to have a forum in which to conduct a broad dialogue surrounding scientific developments in this field and to determine the direction of future investigative efforts. Lines of investigation that have experienced a recent upsurge in next generation lymphatic investigation include, but are not limited to: genetics, biochemistry and biophysics, bioengineering, immunology, cellular and molecular biology, physiology and pharmacology, anatomy, in areas such as vasculogenesis and angiogenesis, developmental and muscle cell biology, tissue engineering, cytoskeletal structure, and interstitial signaling mechanisms as well as pathology, inflammation and tumor biology.
The recent, explosive growth of interest and advances in lymphatic biology has engendered a number of formal developments that signal the coalescence of a distinct biomedical discipline. Furthermore, there has been an impetus for leading investigators in this field to meet formally, to create research imperatives, exchange information, and initiate collaborative efforts. In 2002, Dr. Stanley Rockson, with the support of Dr. Kari Alitalo and the Lymphatic Research Foundation, successfully initiated an application for the establishment of a biennial Gordon Research Conference series on Molecular Mechanisms in Lymphatic Function and Disease, to give this embryonic field a much-needed interactive context for the exposure of new concepts among a focused group of scientists and to foster the collaborative efforts, among such individuals, that are crucial to the continued advancement of this field. This conference series is devoted to an in-depth exploration and discussion of the emerging disciplines related to lymphatic research and biology, with special emphasis upon lymphatic development, vasculogenesis and therapeutic lymphangiogenesis. The physiology, molecular biology, biophysics, human genetics and therapeutics of the lymphatic system are explored and there is a focus upon mechanisms of cancer metastasis and its relationship to lymphangiogenesis.
The first Gordon Research Conference on lymphatics was held in Ventura, California, in May 2004. This conference had a major impact on developments in the field. It received from the Scientific Board of the Gordon Research Conference the highest ratings and recommendation for continuation in 2006. Lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic vascular biology have become "hot topics" in biology, as recently summarized by Phyllida Brown in a news feature ("Unlocking the drains") in Nature (28 July, 2005, p. 456-458). In the headlines she writes: "After centuries of playing second fiddle to the blood system, our lymphatic circulation is coming into its own as a key player in diseases..."
A Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) is held in conjunction with this Conference. Click here for more information about the associated GRS.