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A mile-high view
November 2011
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


DENVER—There's an elevated sense of anticipation for the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) as it prepares to hold its annual meeting in December. Hopes are high—as high as the city hosting the event—and the society hopes to go above and beyond with this year's program. OK, now that the requisite puns and wordplay are done, let's get to what the ASCB is actually doing in Denver—a.k.a. the "Mile-High City"—and why it's important for those who deal in the world of cell biology.  
"As we set our sights high for the next 50 years, it's appropriate that we meet here in Denver, the Mile-High City," says ASCB President Dr. Sandra L. Schmid. "Unlike small conferences, the annual ASCB meeting showcases both the depth and breadth of cell biology. The cell is the fundamental unit of life. To highlight this, symposia speakers will present a continuum of research approaches and problems."  
The Sunday symposia are "Molecular Mechanisms," presented by Jennifer A. Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, Judith Frydman of Stanford University and Thomas Surrey of the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute, and "Function of Multi-Molecular Machines" by Raymond Deshaies of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), David Drubin of UC Berkeley and Melissa Moore of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Monday's symposia are "Cellular Networks and Information Processing" by Michael Elowitz of Caltech, Christine Jacobs-Wagner of Yale University and Chris Marshall of the Institute of Cancer Research in London, and "Self-Organization of Cellular Structures" by Gaudenz Danuser of Harvard Medical School, Benjamin Glick of the University of Chicago and Francois Nedelec of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany.  
On Tuesday will be "Complex Cellular Functions: Linking Networks and Structures" by Kristin Baldwin of the Scripps Research Institute, William Bement of the University of Wisconsin–Madison and W. James Nelson of Stanford, and "Mechanism of Multicellular Functions" by Darren Gilmour of EMBL, Arthur Lander of the University of California, Irvine and Jennifer A. Zallen of the Sloan-Kettering Institute.
There will be only one symposium on Wednesday, which is "Design Principles of Cells and Tissues" by Linda Griffith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Wallace Marshall of the University of California, San Francisco.  
There are also nearly 30 mini-symposia currently scheduled, which, Schmid says, "will dig deeper into individual areas of cell biology and will allow young and active scientists to present their latest findings." (For a full lineup of the mini- symposia, see listing below.)  
The ASCB is also offering three working groups, which are described as "town halls for big questions." They are "Using Large Data Sets as Tools to Understand Cell Biology" by Lani Wu of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Wolfgang Huber of EMBL; "Learning from Heterogeneity and Stochastic Cell Behavior" by Johan Paulsson of Harvard Medical School and Lucas Pelkmans of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) in Switzerland; and "Imaging Cellular Structure Across Scales" by John Briggs of EMBL and Melike Lakadamyali of the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) in Spain.  
Aside from the educational activities and exhibitions, there is much to see and do in Denver and Colorado in general (a few of which we'll cover in other articles in this section). The ASCB cites the city's "historic, walkable downtown, great restaurants, frugal fare … and 300 days of sunshine annually" as well as the "nearby magnificent mountains" that will beckon visitors. In addition, Schmid points out, "there'll be snow on the mountains, so plan on coming early or staying late."  
The ASCB annual meeting will be held at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver Dec. 3 to 7. For more information, visit the website for the ASCB annual meeting at
(For some ideas of what to do and sights to see in Denver, click here.)

The following 29 mini-symposia will examine more specific areas of cell biology not covered in depth by the full symposia:  
Actin Dynamics Marie-France Carlier and Rong Li
Bioengineering and Mechanobiology Adam J. Engler and Celeste Nelson  
Cancer Cell Biology Franziska Michor, and Michael Yaffe  
Cell Biology of Micro-Organisms and the Evolution of the Eukaryotic Cell Sean Crosson and Joel B. Dacks  
Cell Biology of RNA Xavier Darzacq and Leemor Joshua-Tor  
Cell Cycle Dynamics and Checkpoints Frederick Cross and Silke Hauf  
Cell Migration Diane Barber and Alex Mogilner  
Cell Polarity Thomas Lecuit and Lesilee Rose  
Cell-Cell and Cell-Matrix Interactions Josephine Adams and Kris DeMali  
Cell-Pathogen Interactions (Viruses and Bacteria) Nihal Altan-Bonnet and Olivia Steele-Mortimer  
Cellular Functions of Ubiquitin and Ub-related Proteins Claudio Joazeiro and Frauke Melchior  
Cellular Mechanism of Disease and Aging Craig Blackstone and Coleen Murphy  
Chemical Biology: Probes and Therapeutics Lisa Belmont and Alice Ting  
Chromosome Structure and Epigenetics Sue Biggins and Job Dekker  
Cilia and Centrosomes Ingrid Hoffmann and Meng-Fu Bryan Tsou
Collective Cell Behavior and Morphogenesis in Development
Ryoichiro Kageyama and Denise Montell  
Innovations in Cell Biology Graduate Education Caroline Kane and Susan Wick
Intracellular Sorting and Trafficking Federica Brandizzi and Rainer Pepperkok  
Meiosis and Oogenesis Laurinda A. Jaffe and Marie Verlhac  
Membrane Fission and Fusion Marko Kaksonen and Alex Merz  
Mitosis Tarun Kapoor and Béla Novák  
Modeling and Simulation of Cellular Functions Hana El-Samad and Ewa Paluch  
Motors and Microtubule Dynamics Jonathon (Joe) Howard and Patricia Wadsworth  
Nuclear Organization and Control of Gene Expression Orna Cohen-Fix and Yaron Shav-Tal  
Organelle Biogenesis and Autophagy Anne Simonsen and Gia Voeltz  
Signal Transduction Networks Philippe Bastiaens and Wendell Lim  
Stem Cells and Pluripotency Fernando Camargo and Leanne Jones  
Synthetic Cell Biology Pamela Silver and Ron Weiss  
The Nuclear Periphery
Brian Burke and Valérie Doye
(For some ideas of what to do and sights to see in Denver, click here.) 
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