Overview, present focus and history of the current phage-related meetings
Starting in 1945, Max Delbrück greatly stimulated and redirected the course of phage research by organizing annual phage courses and still-ongoing phage meetings at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, drawing scientists from around the world and leading to the development of molecular biology. Phage research and funding blossomed, but then declined as new phage-derived techniques enabled the molecular analyses of other organisms, and the Cold Spring Harbor phage meetings evolved into “Phage and Microbial Genetics”. The Evergreen International phage meeting, started in 1975, was developed to again provide an affordable meeting that focused primarily on phage. Much is now happening in more general microbiological meetings and smaller, specialized meetings to reflect the widespread resurgence of interest in phage and their applications, occurring in places such as Tbilisi, Georgia; Leuven, Belgium; the Pasteur Institute, Paris; southern France; Nottingham, England; the King Ranch, Texas; Edinburg, Scotland; and Belfast, Ireland. A number of such meetings and relevant sessions are indicated at www.evergreen.edu/phage, on the general meetings page; please let us know about other meetings with phage emphasis and we will post them. A new Viruses of Microbes society has been established, and the Pasteur Institute held the first Viruses of Microbes meeting in 2010 in Paris; this is to become a regular event alternating with the Evergreen meeting, with the next scheduled for July 2012 in Brussels, led by Rob Lavigne. There is also now a bimonthly specialized Bacteriophage journal, whose second issue will be out very soon.
Some further details about the phage-related meetings this summer:
►The 19th Evergreen International Phage Biology Meeting is the only major international meeting this year concentrating exclusively on phage. It started as a west-coast lytic-phage meeting, reflecting the fact that the traditional Cold Spring Harbor meeting had decreased its emphasis on phage and had become too expensive for many, particularly students. With the help of Bruce Alberts, Chris Mathews, Gisela Mosig, Fumio Arisaka, Jan Drake, Eleanor Spicer, Peter Gauss, Wolfgang Rueger, Vadim Mesyanzhinov, Eric Miller, Jim Karam and others, it soon became an international meeting, and was the birthplace of the T4 genome project and the 1983 and 1994 ASM Bacteriophage T4 books. It gradually grew into a much more general phage biology meeting in the early 1990’s. The 2007 and 2009 meetings drew about 150 people from 30 countries.
►The Molecular Genetics of Bacteria and Phages Meeting, ending Aug. 7th alternates since the mid-80s between Cold Spring Harbor and Madison, Wisconsin, where it will be this year. While its main focus is on bacterial molecular genetics, it still takes pride in its phage roots and has one session scheduled on phage biology. Its interesting-sounding sessions on microbial DNA Replication, Recombination, and Transposition; Mechanism and Regulation of Transcription; Global Regulation and Stress Response; Posttranscriptional Regulation and Small RNAs; Transcript Processing and Translation; Cell Signaling and Cell-Cell Interactions; Cell Biology and Development; Bacterial Pathogenesis; and Genomics and Proteomics are all relevant as one thinks about the interactions between host and phage. Thus, we have again scheduled the Evergreen meeting to start right after the Madison meeting, making it possible to attend both, particularly for those coming from abroad. http://www.union.wisc.edu/phages
►The XXII Phage and Virus Assembly Conference. This biennial meeting was started by Bob Edgar, Bill Wood and Fred Eiserling in 1968, at a time when the Cold Spring Harbor meeting was primarily focusing on such phenomena as gene regulation and lysogeny; held different places each time, it has a good balance between phage and other viruses. This year, it will be held October 9-14 on the Gulf Coast in Port Aransas, Texas, put on by Ian Molineux [firstname.lastname@example.org].