The sixth annual international GlycoT conference, held in the United States this year for the first time, will feature scientists from around the globe presenting the latest advances in glycomics--an emerging research field that studies all of the carbohydrate molecules produced by organisms.
The conference takes place May 17-20 at the Emory Conference Center Hotel, 1615 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30322. The conference schedule, registration information and a list of speakers is available at http://www.biochem.emory.edu/conferences/glycot/.
The first international symposium on glycosyltransferases (GlycoT), held in Osaka, Japan, in 1997, arose from discoveries that carbohydrates or glycan chains have important biological functions and that their study represents an important area of research in the post-genomic era. Studies on glycans are now termed "glycomics." The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has identified the field of glycomics as a major new research focus.
Emory University and the University of Georgia are co-sponsors of the GlycoT 2008 conference. Co-chairs are Richard Cummings, PhD, chair of the Department of Biochemistry at Emory University School of Medicine, and Michael Pierce, PhD, distinguished professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and director of the UGA Cancer Center and a faculty member of the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center.
"Many proteins and lipids in the body become functional through the addition of carbohydrate chains, and are called glycoconjugates," explains Cummings. "These carbohydrate molecules and their associated proteins and/or lipids permit cells to communicate with and adhere to each other--transmitting messages that underlie many cellular and bodily functions."
The biological structures of glycans were historically difficult to study, however, partly due to the complex analytical technology required. But new developments in the field, including developments in molecular biology, and technological developments such as mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance, have made it far easier for scientists to study glycan structures and functions. Altered expression of glycans is associated with many human disorders and diseases, including autoimmune diseases, renal diseases, neuromuscular diseases, cancer, diabetes and sensitivity to infectious diseases.
This conference will highlight new developments in the glycomics area and bring together researchers from around the world, including scientists from Europe, Japan, China, and Korea.
The Glycomics Center at Emory University School of Medicine is affiliated with the Core H Facility of the Consortium for Functional Glycomics, funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the NIH (www.functionalglycomics.org).
The Complex Carbohydrate Center at the University of Georgia occupies a 140,000 sq.ft.-building designed for the interdisciplinary study of carbohydrate science. (http://www.ccrc.uga.edu/home.html).