Keystone Symposia will serve as a catalyst for the advancement of biomedical and life sciences by connecting scientists within and across disciplines at conferences and workshops held at venues that create an environment conducive to information exchange, generation of new ideas and acceleration of applications that benefit society.


Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Silverthorne, Colorado, USA that convenes open, peer-reviewed conferences across a broad range of the life sciences. Approximately 50-60 conferences take place each year. More than half the symposia are held in mountain venues across the American and Canadian West, with the remainder in generally North American cities and various global locations. We have now convened conferences on six continents: Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America.

Scientific content for each conference is organized by volunteer scientists who are experts in their respective fields and who also select program speakers, with guidelines from Keystone Symposia to encourage fresh and diverse participation. The conferences are typically three to four full days in length and consist of two daily plenary sessions complemented by workshops and poster sessions. The meeting format is designed to maximize informal networking among participants. Scholarships and travel awards help make possible the participation of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, who typically account for 40% of attendees each year. Keystone Symposia has a range of Diversity in Life Science Programs and actively encourages participation of underrepresented investigators and scientists from developing countries.

Keystone Symposia's Chief Executive Officer reports to the Board of Directors and, along with the Chief Scientific Officer, acts on the advice of a Scientific Advisory Board comprised of more than 75 leading scientists from academia, industry and government worldwide. This Board meets twice a year to determine conference topics, identify potential scientific organizers and review proposed programs.

We receive revenue from two sources: registration fees (approximately 65-70%) and generous support from corporations, foundations, government entities and individuals (approximately 30-35%). This support provides funding for scholarships as well as speaker travel expenses (no honoraria are paid), allowing registration fees to be kept as low as possible.

A staff of 40 full-time, part-time or seasonal employees handles all aspects of administration, meeting management/logistics, attendee services, fundraising and marketing.


Founded in 1972 in Los Angeles as the ICN-UCLA Symposium on Molecular Biology by Professor C. Fred Fox, the organization evolved into UCLA Symposia before relocating to Silverthorne, Colorado in 1990. At that time we became a free-standing division of a nonprofit called The Keystone Center and were renamed Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology. We separated from The Keystone Center and became an entirely independent nonprofit in a phased transition beginning in 1995 and ending in 1997.

The first meeting organized was on Membrane Research in Squaw Valley, California in March 1972. While still known as UCLA Symposia, the organization convened the first-ever open, international meeting on AIDS in 1984, which was widely credited with catalyzing a consensus that AIDS was caused by a retrovirus now known as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

We proudly celebrated our 40th anniversary in 2012!

Timeline of Key Milestones

1972: Keystone Symposia was founded as the ICN-UCLA Symposium on Molecular Biology and held an initial conference on membrane research in Squaw Valley, California, March 13-17, 1972.

1990: Keystone Symposia relocated to Silverthorne, Colorado, became a division of The Keystone Center and was renamed Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology.

1995-97: Keystone Symposia became an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

2001: First conference outside of the US in Canada (“Hematopoiesis” in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada).

2005: First conference in Asia (“Stem Cells, Senescence and Cancer” in Singapore).

2006: First conference in Europe (“Multi-Protein Complexes Involved in Cell Regulation” in Cambridge, UK).

2007: First conference in Africa (“Challenges of Global Vaccine Development” in Cape Town, South Africa).

2009: First conference in Australia (“Telomere Biology and DNA Repair” in Ashmore).

2013: First conference in South America (“The Innate Immune Response in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease” in Ouro Preto, Brazil).