Meiosis is the specialized cell division cycle that gives rise to haploid gametes for sexual reproduction. Meiotic processes ensure fertility, generate natural variation and provide the mechanistic basis for the rules that govern inheritance. Given the fundamental importance of meiosis for propagation of species, and the conserved nature of many of the distinct events in meiosis, there is a surprising degree of variation in meiotic regulation across sexually reproducing species. Exploring both these distinct differences, as well as the commonalities in meiotic strategies employed across eukaryotes, is crucial to our understanding of how meiosis is regulated to ensure the production of euploid gametes. Nowhere is this more important than in our own species, in which defects in meiosis are responsible for the high rates of infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects, including Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) and Trisomy 18. Additionally, understanding the fundamental regulatory networks that orchestrate meiosis is key to the development of strategies for improving animal breeding and crop production.
The meiotic program encompasses unique molecular processes underlying cell cycle control and checkpoint activation, DNA repair and recombination, chromatin architecture, chromosome movements, and gene expression that exhibit features not seen in any other cell type. Thus, the immense complexity of the meiotic cell cycle can inform a wide variety of biological sub-disciplines, including germ cell biology, DNA repair and cancer, gene regulation and epigenetics, and chromosome dynamics and spindle assembly, to name a few. The recent rapid rate of progress in understanding this unique cell cycle is due to the emergence of the many different model organisms in which to study meiotic events, coupled with the unprecedented surge in molecular tools and techniques for studying various aspects of the meiotic cell cycle. The goal of this conference is to consolidate our understanding of meiosis through comparative investigations across a broad range of eukaryotic species, including protists, fungi, insects, plants, nematodes, and vertebrates. At the same time, we aim to take advantage of the broad diversity of scientific approaches and disciplines being employed to further our understanding of this fascinating process.
The GRC will be held at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH on June 7-12, 2020, and will be preceded by the Meiosis Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) at the same location (June 6-7, 2020). The GRC will gather approximately 175 participants, including 53 speakers, to present and discuss cutting-edge, mostly unpublished research addressing critical topics in meiosis. The program comprises 9 plenary sessions that broadly address current issues in the initiation and progression of meiotic recombination, meiotic progression and cell cycle checkpoints, regulation of meiotic gene expression, chromosome pairing and synapsis, chromosome dynamics, and chromosome segregation. Four poster sessions, open to all participants throughout the conference, will provide a basis for extended and in-depth critical discussions. An open forum "Power Hour" will be convened with the aims of addressing the challenges faced by women in science and supporting the professional growth of women in our communities.
The GRS, which is organized by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, is aimed at junior researchers and will include 50-60 participants, including several invited faculty moderators. The GRS meeting will feature four plenary and two poster sessions. These two conferences will provide a collegial environment for graduate students, postdocs, young and established investigators to openly exchange ideas at the forefront of this exciting field in both formal and informal settings.