Animal venoms are among the most complex natural secretions known, comprising a mixture of bioactive compounds often referred to as toxins. Despite their complexity, the molecular structure and targets of toxins, which include receptors such as transient receptor potential channels (TRP channels), and voltage- and ligand-gated calcium, potassium, and sodium channels are relatively conserved throughout the animal kingdom. These features make venom a wildly successful evolutionary innovation whose components are ideal candidates for discovery and development of anti-tumor agents, heart stimulants, and therapies for autoimmune and neurological diseases, including chronic pain. Currently, six venom-derived peptides are commercially available drugs: ziconotide for pain; exenatide for diabetes; bivalirudin for anticoagulation; captopril for hypertension; and eptifibatide and tirofiban for coronary syndrome. Venom research is growing exponentially, as evidenced by the increase in venom publications, symposia, biomedical applications and biotech startup companies, leading to important socio-economic impacts on society. As a consequence, the World Economic Forum recently designated Venomics as one of the four most promising frontiers of science, and the World Health Organization classified snakebite as a “Category A Neglected Tropical Disease” and launched global strategy for prevention and control of snakebite envenoming. Yet, the full potential of venom remains untapped due to a lack of knowledge on many venomous animals and a scarcity of opportunities to create a cohesive research community focused on the diversity of venom. Venom occurs so broadly across the animal tree of life that no single conference brings together experts in the basic and applied sciences of venomous animals to examine the physiological and pharmacological applications of venom. The 2022 Venom Evolution, Function and Biomedical Applications Gordon Research Conference and Seminar (Venom-GRC/GRS) aims to overcome these hurdles by coalescing an interdisciplinary group of academic and industry professionals to address venom as both a global health problem and a route to innovation in health solutions. Our goals for the 2022 Venom-GRC/GRS are to define key areas of this emerging field, establish collaborations to advance the unique perspectives to be gained from an interdisciplinary approach to venom research, and evaluate challenges and opportunities for venom biomedical research and drug development. The conference chairs are making significant efforts to invite a culturally, ethnically, and gender diverse group of 150 established and early career faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students to the 2022 Venom-GRC/GRS. Our program will foster a community of experts focused on complementary and integrative topics in venom research.
The conference will consist of nine sessions, on the topics listed below. The conference chair is currently developing their preliminary program, which will include the names of the invited speakers and discussion leaders for each of these sessions. Please check back regularly for updates to this information.
- Keynote Session: Functional Ecology and Biodiversity of Venom
- Ecological and Evolutionary Processes Shaping Venoms: Connecting Basic Research with Downstream Applications
- Emerging Models in Venom Research
- Advances in Technological and Methodological Approaches
- Toxin Structure and Function
- Characterizing Toxin-Target Interactions
- Antivenom: Advances in Development and Production
- Biomedical and Pesticidal Applications of Venom
- Keynote Session: Socio-Economic and Human Health Impacts of Venom