The aim of the conference was to foster a deep exchange among leading experts on the theme of epigenetic reprogramming, drawing fresh insight from the juxtaposition of the main lines of inquiry that are shaping this field. Lineage choices, their stability and their reversibility, are now at the crossroad of several research fields which range from the basic biology of differentiation and morphogenesis to the biotechnological engineering that is reshaping lineages for medical applications. Nuclear transfer, cell fusion and induced pluripotency have defined the past decade with radical challenges to many long standing tenets of developmental biology and have propelled a new paradigm for regenerative medicine. Meanwhile advances in lineage tracing for the main model organisms have uncovered salient examples of in vivo reprogramming, either spontaneous or induced by genetic or epigenetic manipulations. We believed the time was ripe to take stock of these converging trajectories and dedicate an ad hoc effort to map the current state of reprogramming as a research field in its own right, with the depth and breadth of analysis that can only come from the interdisciplinary contribution of the various strands of "reprogramming" research. Hence this meeting attempts to carve an intellectual space distinct from the format of either all-encompassing stem cell conferences or highly specialiazed workshops devoted to a single cell or signaling pathway. At this defining time in its growth, the intellectual venture of reprogramming needs both focus and lateral thinking.
Stefano Casola (The FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology Foundation, IFOM, Milan, Italy)
Thomas Graf (Center for Genomic Regulation, CRG, Barcelona, Spain)
Giuseppe Testa (European Institute of Oncology, IEO, Milan, Italy)