Report on Lectures

Miami Winter Symposium 2008

a Nature conference

“Regulatory RNA in Biology and Human Health”

The joint Symposia with Nature Publishing Group which began with the 1988 meeting have been a great success, bringing together biotechnologists from industry and their counterparts from the universities and research institutions, to participate in a program that combines basic and applied aspects of the same re-search focus. A feature that is particularly valued, and which leads to repeat visits, is the broad scope of each Symposium.

A long tradition of generous support by many other sponsors has continued. These included the Molecular Cell Biology Network of UNESCO, the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (IUBMB), Golub Enterprises, Inc., Hazel Jean Tomlinson, Abbott, Amgen, Merck, New England Bio-Labs, Rosetta Genomics, BiooScientific, Alnylam, Miltenyi Biotec, Journal of Cell Biology, and from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, and the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy.

Each year brings a new theme and a new Program Committee. For the planning of the 2008 Symposium program we are grateful to members of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, our co-sponsors, Nature Publishing Group, represented by Andrew Marshall, Editor of Nature Biotechnology, Alison Farrell, Senior Editor of Nature Medicine, and Bernd Pulverer, Editor of Nature Cell Biology, and Charles Weissmann from Scripps Florida.

This year’s conference turned to the major advances that have been made in the area of small regulatory RNAs. RNA interference (RNAi) has already been widely adopted as a powerful approach for experimental knockdown of gene expression and our understanding of the role of RNAi, X-chromosome inactivation and naturally occurring antisense transcripts in development and disease pathogenesis grows apace. Several sessions have tackled the key mechanisms and molecules involved in the biogenesis of these molecules and their role in regulating gene expression and genome stability detailing¬† the role of small RNAs in development, tumorigenesis and other pathologies. In terms of practical applications of basic biology, the last session looked at the extent to which this knowledge is being applied to create a new generation of therapeutics and diagnostics.
During the meeting, the IUBMB Jubilee Lecture, sponsored by the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology¬†entitled microRNA Targets was held by Nikolaus Rajewsky, Head of the Research Group “Systems Biology”, Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine, 13092 Berlin-Buch, Germany,

He has developed the theme of the identification of miRNAs and their targets as crucial for understanding miRNA function. Experimental data and computational algorithms have been presented that allow (a) the identification of miRNAs from deep sequencing data (b) systematic comparisons of various published miRNA target finding algorithms.

President of IUBMB Angelo Azzi (right) together with the Past-President William Whelan (left)After lecture, the President of IUBMB Angelo Azzi (right) together with the Past-President William Whelan (left) have presented the Jubilee Lecturer with the IUBMB Medal.