Neural crest cells and cranial placodes share evolutionary and embryological origins and are of fundamental importance to vertebrate development, evolution and disease. Together, they form the cranial sensory ganglia, but individually they each give rise to an incredibly diverse array of cell types and tissues. Neural crest cells form most of the bone, cartilage and connective tissue of the head and face, the dentine-producing odontoblasts of teeth, the ciliary muscles and corneal endothelium of the eye, cardiomyocytes and aorticopulmonary septum of the heart, chromaffin cells in the adrenal gland, pigment cells in the skin, all peripheral glia, peripheral autonomic and enteric neurons, and most peripheral somatosensory neurons. Placodes form the paired peripheral sense organs including the eye lenses, olfactory, otic, and lateral line, as well as neurons associated with taste, fertility and homeostasis. Neural crest cells and cranial placodes have provided experimental paradigms for studying cell and tissue induction, patterning, morphogenesis, invagination, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, migration, differentiation and stem cell biology. Defects in neural crest cell and cranial placode development underlie a broad range of birth defects and disorders including cancer, sensory deficits, and abnormal physiological function in juveniles and adults.
This conference on Neural Crest Cells and Cranial Placodes brings together leading researchers working on all aspects of neural crest cell and cranial placode biology. The conference offers the chance to present unpublished data, form new collaborations, mentor junior scientists, and build professional networks in an informal, supportive environment. The goals of the conference are to accelerate the exchange of interdisciplinary ideas and advances across different model systems, to promote technological innovation in the field, and deepen our understanding of neural crest cells and cranial placodes at genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic levels. Recent advances in generating neural crest cell and placode derivatives from human stem cells have major implications for our understanding of vertebrate development and evolution, the pathogenesis of congenital disorders and the promise of tissue engineering in regenerative medicine.