MEETING CANCELLED: Gene Drives and Selfish Genetic Elements
Organizer(s): David A. O'Brochta, Fred Gould, Amanda Larracuente and Owain Edwards Date: March 07 - 11, 2021
Location: Whistler Conference Centre, Whistler, BC, Canada
Studying the evolution and molecular biology of natural selfish genetic elements has inspired the development of powerful synthetic selfish genetic elements or “gene drives” that might be used to genetically manipulate natural populations of agricultural (and medically-significant pests), as well as invasive species, providing potential solutions to difficult and important public health, food security and conservation problems. Where natural selfish genetic elements were once primary genetic platforms for the creation of transgenic technologies, synthetic biology approaches now dominate and this growing dominance risks leading to a disconnection between scientists studying selfish genetic elements found in nature and those applying synthetic biology approaches to develop genome engineering tools such as gene drives. Yet there is much that can be learned from natural drives that could improve the development of synthetic drives and decrease uncertainties about how they might perform in nature. Gene Drives and Selfish Genetic Elements: Genetics and Technologies will reestablish strong connections between these two groups of scientists. This conference will foster exchange of ideas between geneticists and ‘genetic engineers’ around the function and behavior of gene drive systems, as well as provide networking opportunities for junior and senior researchers. Additionally, it will stimulate research initiatives, collaborations and synergies that will lead to new/better science and innovative technologies for the public good. This topic will appeal to basic scientists working on natural drive systems and applied scientists working to develop area-wide genetic bio-control tools for invasive species, crop pests, and insect vectors of disease. This conference will be held jointly with 'Precision Engineering of the Genome, Epigenome and Transcriptome', thus further enhancing the sharing of cutting-edge advances and facilitating opportunities for networking.