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State of the Society Address

ASM President Timothy J. Donohue will open with the State of the Society Address. Dr. Donohue’s update will cover the ASM Futures Project, ASM Microbe 2016, and the search for ASM’s next CEO.
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Phages through the Ages: Celebrating the Centennial Anniversary of Phage Discovery and Outlining Research Avenues for the Next 100 Years

The year 2015 marks the centennial anniversary of the discovery of bacteriophages (phages; viruses that infect bacteria). Over the past 100 years, phage research has spanned many scientific disciplines, ranging from biology to physics to mathematical modeling. With total numbers at 10^31, phages are the most abundant biological entities on the planet and recent studies also suggest that they are the most diverse. Phages have been central to many molecular biology tools and discoveries, and serve important ecological functions, including structuring microbial communities, driving evolution through horizontal gene transfer, and playing major roles in biogeochemical cycling. This plenary session will discuss major findings and exciting emerging avenues in phage research, covering diverse fields such as: phage ecology, phage therapy, phage-host interactions, and phage molecular biology. Since phages impact so many aspects of microbiology, this session will be of interest to the diverse ASM membership.

Immunology Issues and Infection in Hemoglobinopathy Populations with Health Disparities

Hemoglobinopathies are genetic blood disorders caused by mutations in the hemoglobin gene which result in abnormal function and/or production of hemoglobin. Sickle cell disease (SCD) and thalassemia are the most commonly inherited blood disorders among populations in the United States. Affected individuals other than African Americans have ethnic backgrounds rooted in Central and Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean countries, North Africa, the Middle East, and India. Numerous sickle gene polymorphisms occur in populations with health disparities. It is commonly thought that the sickle gene confers resistance to diseases such as malaria but this may not be entirely true. Populations affected with the sickle gene are exposed and susceptible to a range of pathogens in different geographical regions. At the end of this special interest session attendees will have an understanding of how host pathophysiological conditions of populations living with hemoglobinopathies are exposed to various infections. Insight on progress and policy issues to prevent infection and decrease morbidity in populations with health disparities will be discussed.

The Envelope, Please

The envelope of bacterial cells is difficult to study both because envelope processes are hard to reconstitute biochemically and because envelope genes often are nonessential in standard laboratory conditions. Recently, there has been an explosion of new technologies and approaches to understand envelope function both in free-living bacteria and in the context of the host cell. This session reports on the major recent advances in this area.