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Gordon Research Seminar on Chromosome Dynamics (May 20 – 21, 2017): Cori Cahoon

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 The Gordon Research Seminar on Chromosome Dynamics, which takes place at the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa in Lucca (Barga), Italy from May 20th – 21st. We asked Cori Cahoon, one of the organizers, about the meeting.


I’m Cori Cahoon, a graduate student in Scott Hawley’s lab* at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. I am honored to be co-organizing this year’s Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) on Chromosome Dynamics with Devanshi Jain, a postdoctoral researcher in Scott Keeney’s lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The 2017 GRS will be held in Lucca, Italy, in conjunction with the upcoming Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Chromosome Dynamics (May 21–26, 2017), which is organized by Rebecca Heald at the University of California, Berkeley, and John F. Marko at Northwestern University.

View from the meeting site at the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa (Luca, Italy). Image Credit: Devanshi Jain (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center)

A diverse set of researchers using organisms from all kingdoms of life endeavor daily to understand the mechanisms involved in organizing, protecting and segregating the blueprint of life we know as DNA. Both the GRS and GRC on Chromosome Dynamics seek to bring together these scientists and trainees from different backgrounds and methodologies to present cutting-edge work in their respective fields. Both meetings will cover a wide range of topics in chromosome biology, from DNA architecture and repair to chromosome segregation and transcription.

The GRS on Chromosome Dynamics occurs two days prior to the GRC and is targeted  toward graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early career scientists. It provides an intimate and collegial atmosphere for young scientists to discuss unpublished work. The GRS will have its own keynote speaker, David Sherratt (University of Oxford), and will feature at least eight additional 20-minute presentations from young scientists. Furthermore, faculty mentors attending the GRC will participate in and serve as panelists to discuss their experiences and career choices. Lively crosstalk between researchers from diverse disciplines makes this a personal favorite meeting of mine and for many of the participants as well. The GRS is a unique and interactive part of the GRCs — and a big part of what draws me back to these meetings every two years.

Unlike many other specialised meetings where experts delve into a model organism or one specific aspect of their field, the GRC on Chromosome Dynamics takes a broader approach. Instead, this conference brings together scientists from numerous areas within the field of chromosome biology and allows them to learn about the latest approaches and technologies being used. Additionally, the GRC provides an environment that promotes interdisciplinary interactions and collaboration. Rebecca and John have put together a superb meeting program. The opening night Keynote session encompasses the diversity of the meeting by presenting not just one, but three keynote talks on three different aspects of chromosome biology: Tatsuya Hirano (RIKEN, Japan), Daniela Barillà (University of York, UK) and Xiaowei Zhuang (Harvard University/HHMI, USA). The following days of the meeting offer eight sessions on a variety of topics from chromosome organization, structure, stability, and biophysics to chromosome dynamics as it relates to cancer, meiosis, replication, and repair.

The GRS and GRC meetings are some of my favorite conferences because they are relatively small in size (GRS: <50 attendees, GRC: <200 attendees) and create an environment for in-depth discussions that illuminate new paths forward for research across the chromosome biology field. The GRS and GRC on Chromosome Dynamics foster an environment where both established scientists as well as early career scientists and trainees can form new collaborations and present innovative scientific research in a safe, off-the-record environment.

If you’re interested in attending or finding out more about the meetings, please refer to the following websites:

-GRS Chromosome Dynamics:
-GRC Chromosome Dynamics:


*Scott Hawley is an Associate Editor for PLOS Genetics

Featured image credit: View from the meeting site at the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa (Luca, Italy). Scott Keeney (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center)

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