11th Annual Mark Wilson Conference

22nd Annual Meeting of the Oral Immunology/Microbiology Research Group

February 10–13, 2012
Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino, Oranjestad, Aruba

2012 Meeting Information

Please direct inquiries to Meeting Coordinator Jacob Burks, M.B.A.

2012 Guest Speakers

“Instructing our cells to get them to do what we want”

John D. Gearhart, Ph.D.
James W. Effron University Professor
Department of Cell and Developmental Biology
Director, PENN Institute for Regenerative medicine

Dr. Gearhart is a developmental geneticist and his research over the past several decades has been directed at an understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of human embryonic development. Dr. Gearhart is a leader in the development and use of human reproductive technologies, embryo and germ cell manipulations and in the genetic engineering of cells. In 1998, Dr. Gearhart and his research team at Johns Hopkins published the first report on the derivation of pluripotent stem cells from germ cells of the human embryo. These cells have the capacity to form all cell types and tissues present in the human body and are considered a major starting point for the development of a wide variety of cell-based therapies in the new field of regenerative medicine. His research is focused on the basic science of stem cells, stem cell specialization, and the generation of cell-based therapies for a number of diseases and injuries.

Dr. Gearhart was a founding member of the International Society for Stem Cell Research and serves on a number of advisory boards and committees of foundations, institutes and professional societies involved in stem cell research and policy and science outreach and has served as a consultant or expert witness for many governmental agencies, in states, at the national level and to governments of foreign countries.

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“Space and time in the human oral microbiome”

David A. Relman, M.D.
Thomas C. and Joan M. Marigan Professor Departments of Medicine, and of Microbiology & Immunology, Stanford University
Chief, Infectious Diseases Section
Veterans Administration Medical Center, Palo Alto, CA

Dr. Relman’s current research focus is the human indigenous microbiota (microbiome), and in particular, the nature and mechanisms of variation in patterns of microbial diversity within the human body as a function of time (microbial succession), space (biogeography within the host landscape), and in response to perturbation, e.g., antibiotics (community robustness and resilience). One of the goals of this work is to define the role of the human microbiome in health and disease. This research integrates theory and methods from ecology, population biology, environmental microbiology, genomics and clinical medicine. Of note, this work now includes an in-depth analysis of the indigenous microbiota of marine mammals and its relationship to that of the sea. During the past few decades, his research directions have also included pathogen discovery and the development of new strategies for identifying previously-unrecognized microbial agents of disease. This work helped to spearhead the application of molecular methods to the diagnosis of infectious diseases in the 1990’s. His research has emphasized the use of genomic approaches for exploring host-microbe relationships. Past scientific achievements include the description of a novel approach for identifying previously-unknown pathogens, the identification of a number of new human microbial pathogens, including the agent of Whipple’s disease, and some of the most extensive analyses to date of the human indigenous microbial ecosystem.

Dr. Relman advises the U.S. Government, as well as non-governmental organizations, in matters pertaining to microbiology, emerging infectious diseases, and biosecurity. He currently serves as Chair of the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Microbial Threats (U.S. National Academies of Science), as a member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, a member of the Physical and Life Sciences Directorate Review Committee for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and advises several U.S. Government departments and agencies on matters related to pathogen diversity, the future life sciences landscape, and the nature of present and future biological threats. He has served as Chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIH); and is currently (2010-2011), Vice-President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). Dr. Relman served as vice-chair of a National Academies of Sciences study of the science underlying the FBI investigation of the 2001 anthrax mailings, and co-chaired a three-year NAS study that produced a widely-cited report entitled, “Globalization, Biosecurity, and the Future of the Life Sciences” (2006). He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, a Fellow of the AAAS, and a member of the Association of American Physicians. Dr. Relman received the Squibb Award from the IDSA in 2001, and was the recipient of both the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, and the Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, in 2006.

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“Autophagy and immunity”

Vojo Deretic, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology
University of New Mexico

Dr. Deretic’s main contributions to science come from studies by his team in the field of autophagy as an emerging biomedical paradigm. Autophagy is a cytoplasmic quality and quantity homeostatic pathway that removes damaged or surplus organelles, toxic macromolecular aggregates, and intracellular microbes. Autophagy furthermore maintains energetic and nutritional balance through continuous mitochondrial homeostasis and, at times of growth factor withdrawal or absence of nutrients, by autodigestion of cell’s own cytosol. Autophagy plays a role in aging, cancer, neurodegeneration, myopathies, development, metabolic disorders, infection and immunity, and in chronic and often idiopathic inflammatory diseases. The Deretic lab has made a seminal contribution to the field by reporting in 2004 and onward that the autophagy pathway is a major effector of innate and adaptive immunity for direct elimination of intracellular microbes, innate immune receptor signaling, macrophage function, and cooperation of immune cells in cell mediated immunity. Dr. Deretic’s laboratory continues to work on autophagy both as a fundamental biological process and in the context of translational applications to a range of human diseases. Within the area of innate and adaptive immunity process, Dr. Deretic applies his work on autophagy in immunity to tuberculosis, AIDS, and Crohn’s disease. Dr. Deretic maintains broad interests in the full spectrum impact of autophagy in multiple areas of human health many of which are pursued experimentally through collaborative projects.

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About the Oral Immunology/Microbiology Research Group

The Oral Immunology/Microbiology Research Group (OIMRG) had its first meeting in 1991. It was founded as a means of promoting intimate, collegial interaction and collaboration among researchers interested in the immunology and microbiology of the oral cavity, particularly as related to oral diseases (dental caries and periodontal disease). The OIMRG is currently comprised of 174 investigators representing forty-eight universities, research centers, and commercial organizations in the U.S. and abroad.

The OIMRG convenes annually for a meeting that consists of three scientific sessions, each focusing on a distinct area of oral immunology and microbiology. It is primarily, but not exclusively, through the annual meeting that the objectives of the OIMRG are achieved. These objectives include the following:

  1. To foster interaction and collaboration among scientists interested in oral immunology and microbiology;
  2. To promote information exchange and collaboration between academicians and their colleagues in the private sector who are engaged in basic and clinical studies pertaining to oral health and disease;
  3. To provide a forum through which new independent investigators establish contact with representatives of federal and non-federal agencies which may be potential sources of funding for future studies.

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About the Annual Meeting

The annual meeting of the OIMRG is also known as the Mark Wilson Conference, named in honor of its founder the late Mark Wilson, 1950–2000. The meeting is consistently held over a long weekend during late January or early February. The 22nd annual meeting of the OIMRG is scheduled for February 10–13, 2012 at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino in Oranjestad, Aruba.

The scientific sessions run from 8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. This year’s topics are:

  • Saturday: Host Response to Oral Bacteria
  • Sunday: Pathogenic Mechanisms Utilized by Oral Bacteria
  • Monday: Microbial & Host Factors in Disease

Each session begins with a keynote address by an invited lecturer. This year Dr. John Gearhart will speak on Saturday; Dr. David Relman will speak on Sunday; and Dr. Vojo Deretic will speak on Monday. Small group breakout sessions for continuing scientific discussions from the morning are held in the afternoons.

The meeting starts on a Friday evening with a reception. Breakfast is served prior to each session. A dinner banquet is held on Sunday evening. All meals (reception, three breakfasts, and dinner banquet) are included in the registration fee and registrants are welcome to bring one guest to each meal. Additional guests are welcome at an additional charge, which must be paid at the time of conference registration.

Meeting director: Ann Progulske-Fox, Ph.D.

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