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Keystone Symposia Expands Global Health Conference Series

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Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology has received a 3- year grant of $2,599,679 to support an expansion of Keystone Symposia’s Global Health Series. 

For 35 years, Keystone Symposia has been internationally recognized for presenting scientific conferences focused on topics at the leading edge of current biomedical research and featuring the worlds respected and productive research scientists. 

Keystone Symposia holds approximately 55 scientific meetings each year; about 15% are focused on specific infectious diseases which affect the developing world. 

The mission of the Symposia is to benefit society by serving as a catalyst for the advancement of biomedical and life sciences.

In addition to Keystone Symposia’s regularly scheduled infectious disease meetings, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant will support an annual Keystone Symposia conference to be held immediately before or after the Grand Challenges in Global Health annual meeting. 

The first of these meetings: Challenges of Global Vaccine Development will be held October 8-13, 2007 in Cape Town, South Africa and involve about 300 scientists including many of the Grand Challenges in Global Health investigators.

These 46 scientists received a total of $436.6 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a broad range of research projects aimed at achieving scientific achievements against diseases that kill millions of people each year in the world's poorest countries.

The scientific organizers of Challenges of Global Vaccine Development meeting are Margaret Liu M.D., Ph.D, ProTherImmune and Visiting Professor, Karolinska Institute, Paul-Henri Lambert M.D., Professor, University of Geneva, and Sir Gustav Nossal, M.D., Ph.D., University of Melbourne.  

This meeting will bring together scientists, physicians and students from the developed and developing world to discuss recent scientific advances and the remaining challenges in developing and administering vaccines for a variety of diseases. 

As well as discussing recent immunological discoveries at the molecular and cellular level, scientists will review advances in immunization technologies, including those useful in developing nations, the unique requirements of early childhood vaccines, and ways to determine safety and efficacy prior to testing new vaccines in human populations. 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant will help cover meeting costs, but most importantly will provide a variety of scholarships and travel awards for scientists from the developing world, especially students and post-doctoral fellows from the African continent.  

Tadataka Yamada M.D., President, Global Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation applauds Keystone Symposia’s mission to connect biomedical scientists and encourage sharing and collaboration.

"We're trying to deal with very difficult problems that people are suffering from in the developing world," he said.

"The more information sharing there is, the more patients will benefit. The Keystone meetings are some of the best venues for forming collaborations and helping science to move forward toward solutions for health problems." 

Other meetings planned for 2007, and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant include: Drugs against Protozoan Parasites, Immunologic Memory, Tuberculosis: From Lab Research to Field, Molecular and Cellular Determinants of HIV Pathogenesis, HIV Vaccines: From Basic Research to Clinical Trials. 

Approximately 1,450 scientists from around the world are expected to attend these 5 meetings. 

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant will help cover some meeting costs, but again, most importantly will provide a variety of scholarships and travel awards for scientists, physicians, and students from the developing world, especially from those nations where these diseases are endemic and result in millions of needless deaths.  

Keystone Symposia CEO and former pharmaceutical executive, Dr. James W. Aiken expressed the Symposia’s gratitude for this valuable assistance from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant.

"We are tremendously pleased to be partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in this important project."

"The goals of the Gates Foundation and Keystone Symposia’s objective to accelerate the pace of discovery by catalyzing global sharing of knowledge are well aligned."

"Breakthroughs in scientific thinking happen most often when groups of scientists from diverse backgrounds have the opportunity to talk together about their work, and to both encourage and challenge each other."

"Keystone Symposia has a long and proven record of providing an environment which fosters meaningful interaction and promotes collaborations between both experienced and junior scientists, as well as between academic, government, clinical, and industry investigators."

"We look forward to bringing together some of the world’s most innovative and productive scientists, who are dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children and adults who are affected by these infectious diseases."

Infectious diseases have long been an important part of Keystone Symposia’s annual series. 

Meetings on Viral Research and Mechanisms of Viral Disease were held in 1973 and 1974, and the first conference on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was held in February of 1984, more than a year before the 1st International Conference on AIDS. 

Keystone Symposia’s annual meetings on HIV pathology and HIV vaccines are reputed to be the best scientific meetings in the world on these topics.