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Keystone Symposia: Cellular Plasticity - Reprogramming, Regeneration and Metaplasia

27th January 2019   -   31st January 2019
Keystone, Colorado, United States


Traditionally, differentiated cells were thought to be post-mitotic. However, now we know mature cells in diverse tissues can reprogram, re-enter the cell cycle, and spawn other lineages (e.g., they revert back to stem cells or adopt other identities). The scientific and health implications are substantial. For one, cellular plasticity might be harnessed to regenerate damaged tissue (e.g., insulin-secreting cells, liver, gut), but repeated reprogramming events – as cells respond to inflammation/injury – can also cause tissue derangement (metaplasia) that predisposes to cancer. Furthermore, cancer cells can harness such plasticity mechanisms to subvert therapy. Thus, defining the mechanisms that allow mature cells to switch identities holds great promise for understanding disease pathogenesis and developing new therapies. This conference gathers the diverse, dynamic field of plasticity/reprogramming together for the first time with the aim of understanding if similar mechanisms underlie plasticity in diverse organs and organisms. The hypothesis is that cellular reprogramming occurs via evolutionarily conserved cellular processes as fundamental to a multicellular organism as apoptosis. Specifically, the conference aims to: 1) Elucidate mechanisms of plasticity in diverse adult tissues; 2) Explore plasticity’s evolutionary context; 3) Elucidate its role in metaplasia/cancer; and 4) Investigate how it can be harnessed therapeutically.

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