Epigenetics is an exciting and very rapidly moving field that impacts many disciplines of basic science, clinical medicine, and agriculture. While an understanding of underlying processes is just beginning to emerge, basic questions about how epigenetic processes work and whether diverse processes share underlying mechanisms remain mysterious. This conference will attempt to find common themes and differences across all phyla (yeast, plants, animals) in phenomena as diverse as genomic imprinting, X-chromosome inactivation, RNA-interference, quelling, paramutations, and prions. The meeting will emphasize the diversity of the phenomena and emerging paradigms for their control. In the conference program, effort is made to bring together experts of complementary and opposing viewpoints. As is becoming increasingly clear, overtly different processes find surprisingly similar strategies of regulation, such as those involving non-coding RNA, DNA methylation, and chromatin. Emphasis will be placed on how disruption in epigenetic mechanisms affect clinical and agricultural interests. The industry of therapeutic and reproductive cloning is one discipline affected by epigenetic processes. Because of the topical nature of epigenetics and its direct impact on many areas of biological sciences, it is expected that this conference will not only facilitate the exchange of knowledge between established investigators but also be beneficial to young scientists (students and postdoctoral fellows) making career decisions.
By the end of this conference, attendees should be able to do the following: . Recognize epigenetic processes across various taxa (plants, animals, yeast), including imprinting, allelic exclusion, transvection, cosuppression, quelling, and RIP/MIP. . Appreciate that these mechanisms may have evolved to regulate gene dosage, to maintain genome integrity, to defend against viruses and transposons. . Identity potential mediators of epigenetic phenomena such as RNA, DNA methylation, and chromatin modifiers. . Begin to recognize possible mechanistic links among diverse species and processes. . Understand how anomalies in epigenetic processes can lead to disease or and how therapeutic strategies might be design. Emphasis is placed on imprinting disorders, genome integrity, animal cloning, cancer, and prions. . Appreciate the agricultural implications of epigenetics, such as those relating to plant viral defense mechanisms, animal cloning, and imprinting.