The development and function of the human brain, and its remarkable capacity for experience dependent change, hinge on the organization and dynamics of synapses. In the central nervous system, excitatory synapses represent the primary means of information processing by local circuits and communication between brain regions. The molecular composition, structural organization, signaling function, and plasticity of excitatory synapses underlie experience-dependent changes in brain function associated with learning and memory. Not surprisingly, disruption of excitatory synapse signaling, function and plasticity is implicated in a broad range of neurological and psychiatric diseases, including schizophrenia, autism, depression, substance abuse and addiction, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury, stroke and epilepsy. Therefore, synaptic studies not only provide fundamental insight into a linchpin of the nervous system but also is essential to develop novel therapeutics and progress in lessening the burden of human neurological diseases and improving mental health.
This conference will present the latest findings on excitatory synapses at the molecular, cellular and systems levels. It will bring together scientists in a very interactive and engaging program at the crossroad between biophysics, pharmacology, cell biology, biochemistry, chemical-biology, neurophysiology and behavior. The program will showcase an outstanding lineup of invited speakers and has been designed to stimulate new concepts, ideas, and technologies within a solid framework of fundamental neuroscience up to its translational potential in the clinics. It will also highlight cutting edge approaches and methods - including cryo-electron and super-resolution microscopy, molecular optogenetics and single-cell genetics - that have the potential to revolutionize our understanding of excitatory synapses and brain function. Specific topics include glutamate receptor structure, regulation and trafficking, synapse maturation and scaffolding, novel signaling pathways within and between brain cells, microcircuit function and plasticity, and the control of behavior and cognition. Recent breakthroughs linking gene, synapse and neural circuit dysfunction to major brain disorders will also be highlighted, offering new perspectives for drug discovery and next generation therapeutics.
Poster sessions will be emphasized and will provide ample opportunities for informal discussions. To insure that the latest and most exciting results are presented, several speakers will be selected from the submitted abstracts. Funding will be available to help with the cost of the meeting for poster presenters with preference given to graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty. This conference will be appealing to a broad, international and multidisciplinary audience in synapse and brain research, and will be an ideal forum to connect and interact with world-class leaders in the field.