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The reversible phosphorylation of substrates by kinase and phosphatase enzymes is a fundamental currency used by all cells to process and interpret a diverse range of stimuli. The rewiring of phosphorylation networks underpins an array of pathological states, including cancer, chronic inflammation and metabolic disorders. Recent advances using a range of biochemical, cell biological and genetic approaches have served to underscore the key role played by spatial and temporal phosphatase activities in both physiological and pathophysiological settings. These include using novel imaging, proteomic and transgenic approaches to unveil previously cryptic regulatory roles. Many phosphatases previously considered 'undruggable' are also becoming increasingly viable and attractive therapeutic targets. We will therefore discuss current developments and methodology in resolving dynamic phosphatase function and the great potential of more widespread phosphatase-directed therapeutics at this meeting.