Fourth International Workshop on Iron and Copper Homeostasis, Pucon, Chile, November 28 - December 3, 2011
Michael Garrick Principal Investigator
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1132351, Garrick<br/><br/>The Fourth International Workshop on Iron and Copper Homeostasis (4IWICH) will be held in Pucón, Chile 28 November - 3 December. As "Fourth" implies, it is the latest in a highly successful series, all held in Chile. The workshop brings together researchers who study iron or copper metabolism or both. Bringing selected members of the first two communities together helps to increase membership in the community that appreciates, understands and actively investigates the overlap between these areas of research. This overlap occurs in multiple ways, some first announced / explored at an IWICH. For examples, presentations and discussions have covered how divalent metal transporter (DMT1, aka SLC11A2, Nramp2, DCT1) transports both metals and considered whether ferrous or ferric (answer ferrous) ions are the substrate or similarly whether cuprous or cupric (answer still debated) ions are transported. Also 3IWICH was where a young American investigator first announced that Menkes Copper Atpase (Atp7a) transcript was elevated in iron deficient rats? intestinal cells establishing a new link between the two metals. Participation of Cu in the activity of ceruloplasmin and hephaestin (multi-copper ferroxidases) also serves as a topic of presentations and discussions at IWICHs. Increasingly roles of the two metals in neurodegenerative disorders are features of the workshop while other links novel and known have been topics at each of the first three IWICHs as well as well as at TEMA (Trace Elements for Man and Animals) 13, an international meeting that intervened after the 3rd workshop and essentially served to postpone the need for the 4th workshop. The international workshops clearly demonstrate the intellectual merit of having such assemblies as does the publication of two special issues of journals (BioMetals and Biological Research) covering the proceedings. Multiple international collaborations have also developed from the formal and informal interactions. Attending one of these conferences has been an important stimulus that attracted multiple young investigators particularly from Chile but also from Asia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Europe and the USA into research in iron and copper homeostasis. Like 2 of the meetings before it, the 4th workshop will be held at the Gran Hotel in Pucón, Chile, a facility that has full provisions for disabled guests. The host country also has a strong motive for research into copper toxicity because the Andes, the geological backbone of Chile, not only provide a strong economic basis for Chile by being a great source of copper, but also lead to contamination of nearly all fresh water sources with substantial levels of copper. Chile needs to know the long term effects of these exposures. Given that this workshop has already established itself to fit descriptives like strong intellectual impact, promoting international collaborations and having a broad impact on basic research, medical research and environmental studies, one may wonder why there is a need for NSF support. The answer is that the workshop will independently attract from the USA some senior investigators who will use their own research grants or other resources to support their coming, but younger investigators must have travel support in order to attend. The First and Second IWICHs had adequate support from various US grant agencies, but US support declined for the next meeting. The organizers focused their limited resources on bringing some young American scientists to Chile and propose now that the NSF help in this critical function of keeping the newer investigators involved in (and one hopes helping to lead) this field. Particular attention also needs to be paid to how it fits with Biomedical Engineering. Issues like the potential effects of high levels of Cu in the water supply, the meeting?s continuing focus on the roles of Fe, Cu and Mn in neurodegeneration are among the answers. Prevention and treatment through interventions involving metal ions as well as their roles in mitochondria, the suppliers of most cellular energy for cellular movements and function, as critical loci for steps in iron and copper metabolism that are only recently yielding to the new molecular and genomic approaches place 4IWICH on target for bridging basic, medical and environmental sciences as applied to metal ion homeostasis and thus as fitting BME?s themes of neural engineering and cellular biomechanics.