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58th Annual Drosophila Research Conference (March 29th – April 2nd): Claude Desplan

As part of its mission to encourage engagement within the genetics community, PLOS Genetics is sponsoring a number of conferences and meetings this year. In order to raise awareness about these conferences and the researchers who attend them, we are featuring a number of these conferences on Biologue, with posts written by the organizers or PLOS Genetics editors who are involved.

PLOS Genetics’ next sponsored conference is the 58th Annual Drosophila Research Conference, which takes place at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center in San Diego, California (USA), between March 29th and April 2nd. We asked Claude Desplan, one of the organizers of the conference and PLOS Genetics Associate Editor, about the meeting. 

Organized by the members of the Fly Community and sponsored by the Genetics Society of America, the Annual Drosophila Research Conference (ADRC) brings together more than 1000 Drosophilists from all over the world to share their latest findings. This year’s meeting organizers are Leanne Jones, Doris Bachtrog, Claude Desplan, and Amy Kiger.

The “fly meeting” consistently attracts an audience of both early-career and more senior Drosophila scientists, with some having attended regularly for decades since its inception. They enjoy the informal atmosphere, the chance for young scientists to showcase their work in oral presentations (selectively chosen from a large number of abstracts), and the extensive set of posters describing work covering numerous different areas of fly research. As such, the meeting creates great opportunities to meet many of the leaders in the field.

The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster—long used for studying mechanisms of cardiac development—has increasingly been employed to model human heart disease. In this issue, Na and colleagues combine dietary and genetic manipulation with physiologic characterization to establish an adult Drosophila model of chronic high sugar-induced heart disease, emphasizing the hexosamine biosynthetic pathway as a candidate therapeutic target. The image shows the normal sarcomeric structure of a Drosophila heart.
The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster—long used for studying mechanisms of cardiac development—has increasingly been employed to model human heart disease. This image shows the normal sarcomeric structure of a Drosophila heart. Image Credit: Jianbo Na and Ross Cagan (Mount Sinai School of Medicine)

Presentations span the wide range of cutting-edge fruit fly research, including evolution and population genetics, developmental biology, cell biology, neuroscience, gene expression, physiology, immunology and more. There will be workshops exploring the Drosophila microbiome, feeding behavior and nutrition, developmental mechanics, biogenic amines and behavior, sex, wound healing, and the use of Drosophila as a research model for undergraduate teaching. New this year are several events including the Principal Investigator (PI) Early Career Forum, which will provide an opportunity for new PIs to meet one another, showcase their research, network with senior members of the fly community, and discuss how to navigate the challenges of starting a new lab. We will also be introducing an early career scientist workshop on navigating the career decision-making process, and the How I Fly (HIF) ScienceSlam, moderated by Slam Master Mike Eisen. Slam participants will help the public understand why Drosophila research is so vital—in 3 minutes or less!

Anchoring the program will be keynote speaker Sean Carroll (HHMI/University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA) and 12 invited plenary speakers:

  • Sean Carroll (Howard Hughes Medical Institute and University of Wisconsin): “The making and unmaking of the animal kingdom”
  • Erika Bach (New York University School of Medicine): “Stem cell homeostasis in the Drosophila testis”
  • Buzz Baum (University College London): “Tissue refinement: a noisy path to order”
  • Julius Brennecke (Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences): “The piRNA pathway—a small RNA based genome defense system”
  • Virginie Courtier-Orgogozo (Institut Jacques Monod – CNRS): “The mutations behind species evolution”
  • Marcos González-Gaitán (University of Geneva): “Asymmetric signaling endosomes in asymmetric division”
  • Peter Robin Hiesinger (Free University Berlin): “Simple rules in neural circuit assembly”
  • Bruno Lemaitre (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne): “The Drosophila-Spiroplasma interaction as a model to dissect the molecular mechanisms underlying insect endosymbiosis”
  • Irene Miguel-Aliaga (Imperial College London): “How the gut talks and listens”
  • François Payre (University Paul Sabatier): “Orchestrating the proliferation differentiation switch of adult intestine”
  • Nitin Phadnis (University of Utah): “The conflicts that shape genomes, cells and species”
  • Julia Zeitlinger (Stowers Institute): “Why the pause? Catching RNA polymerase II in vivo”
  • Marta Zlatic (HHMI Janelia Research Campus): “Circuits principles of memory-based behavioral choice”

Please visit the website for more details about the program. You can also follow the meeting on Twitter using the hashtag #DROS17.

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