Fifty Years of Reverse Transcriptase

October 20-23, 2021 (Virtual)
Posters abstract deadline: August 31, 2021


John Coffin, Tufts University
Steve Goff,
Columbia University
Anna-Marie Skalka,
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Steve Hughes,
National Cancer Institute
Hung Fan,
University of California Irvine

The discovery of Reverse Transcriptase 50 years ago was one of the most dramatic findings of the 20th century, for both scientific and non-scientific reasons. The discovery provided instant proof for the previously ridiculed hypothesis that retroviruses replicate through a DNA intermediate, amending a widely held dogma of genetic information flow, and establishing a new paradigm of gene transfer.  The unique properties of retroviruses also laid the essential technical and conceptual groundwork for defining discoveries to follow – the molecular basis of cancer, the causes of important animal and human diseases, including T cell lymphoma and AIDS, as well as the rapid development of antiretroviral drugs in response to the HIV pandemic. 

This 2021 Cold Spring Harbor biohistory meeting will address Fifty Years of Reverse Transcriptase  and will begin at 10:00 am ET on Wednesday, October 20th and concluding on Saturday, October 23rd. The goal of this meeting is to bring together the researchers involved in these seminal discoveries, to exchange historical information and insights into what made them possible, and to provide an historical archive of a major turning point in the remarkable story of 20th century biological science.

Welcome Remarks: Bruce Stillman

Introduction: John Coffin
Day Time (ET Session # Session Name
Wednesday 10:00 am - 10:25 pm Welcome Remarks: Bruce Stillman

Introduction: John Coffin
Wednesday 10:30 am - 12:15 pm 1 The Discovery of Reverse Transcriptase
Wednesday 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm 2 Mechanisms of Reverse Transcription, Other Viruses I
Thursday 9:30 am - 11:00 am 3 Mechanisms of Reverse Transcription, Other Viruses II
Thursday 11:15 am - 12:45 pm 4 RT and Evolution: Other Retroelements and Normal Roles I
Thursday 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm 5 RT and Evolution: Other Retroelements and Normal Roles II
Thursday 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm 6 Flash Talks
Friday 9:30 am - 12:45 pm 7 RT as Tool and Target
Friday 2:00 pm - 5:45 pm 8 RT, Retroviruses and Disease
Saturday 9:30 am - 1:15 pm 9 RT and Evolution: Endogenous Retroviruses

Virtual Icebreaker
Wednesday, 5:00 pm
Discussion Zone
30-minutes following each oral session (open Zoom format)
*Virtual Poster Session will be available for viewing throughout the meeting

On-demand recordings of the daily Zoom sessions will be made available for 24 hours starting the following day, followed by longer-term access to the Leading Strand archive the week after the meeting.

Session Chairs:
Beemon, Johns Hopkins University
John Coffin, Tufts University
Hung Fan, University of California, Irvine
Henry Levin, NIH/NICHD
Judith G. Levin, NICHD, NIH
Dixie Mager, British Columbia Cancer Research Center, Canada
Suzanne Sandmeyer, University of California, Irvine
Marty St. Clair, ViiV Healthcare
John Taylor, Fox Chase Cancer Research
Alice Telesnitsky, University of Michigan
Harold Varmus, Weill Cornell Medical College

Invited Speakers:
Irina Arkhipova,
Marine Biological Laboratory
Eddy Arnold, Rutgers University and CABM
David Baltimore, Caltech
J. Michael Bishop, University of California, San Francisco
Jef Boeke, NYU Langone Health
John Coffin, Tufts University
Kathleen Collins, University of California, Berkeley
Ronald Desrosiers, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Jaquelin Dudley, The University of Texas at Austin
Robert Gallo, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Stephen Goff, Columbia University
Alex Greenwood, Leibniz-Institut fur Zoo-und Wildtierforshug, Germany
Thierry Heidmann, Institut Gustave Roussy, France
Thomas Hohn, Friedrich Miescher-Institut, Switzerland
Stephen Hughes, National Cancer Institute
Welkin Johnson, Boston College
Haig Kazazian, Johns Hopkins University
Christine Kozak, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Alan Lambowitz, The University of Texas at Austin
Jeffrey Lifson, National Cancer Institute at Frederick
Maxine Linial, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Tom Maniatis, New York Genome Center
Malcolm Martin, NIAID, National Institutes of Health
William Mason, Fox Chase Cancer Center
Jeffrey Miller, University of California, Los Angeles
Hiroaki Mitsuya, National Cancer Institute
Karin Moelling, University of Zurich, Switzerland
Benjamin Neel, NYU Langone Health
Douglas Richman, University of California, San Diego
Stefan Sarafianos, Emory University
John Sedivy, Brown University
Anna Marie Skalka, Fox Chase Cancer Center
Jonathan Stoye, The Francis Crick Institute, UK
Sarah Temin
Harold Varmus
, Weill Cornell Medical College
Peter Vogt, Scripps Research
Robert Weinberg, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Robin Weiss, University College London, UK

This Week in Virology Discussion led by Vincent Racaniello, Columbia University, Moderator

For these unique science history meetings, we invite speakers who made many of the seminal discoveries that began a field as well as those currently working in that field. We also invite historians who have examined the scientific and societal context of the field. Like the previous meetings in the series, this meeting will provide an excellent opportunity to look in-depth at the history of a topic in biology and share stories that may be missing from purely academic accounts.

Registrations are warmly welcomed from scientists, clinicians, historians, activists, and journalists. You must be registered in order to present a poster. Once registered you will receive a confirmation email containing the link for abstract submission. If you wish to present a poster, please plan on a maximum size of 4ft x 4ft (1.22m x 1.22m). Click the Information tab above for details on presenting posters at CSHL meetings.

We have significant sponsorship to partially offset registration costs for some attendees. Please apply in writing via email to Val Pakaluk and state your financial needs. See below for special categories of financial aid.

Social Media: The designated hashtag for this meeting is #cshlhist21. Note that you must obtain permission from an individual presenter before live-tweeting or discussing his/her talk, poster, or research results on social media. Click the Policies tab above to see our full Confidentiality & Reporting Policy.

Major financial support provided by: Gates Foundation, Genentech, Gilead, National Institutes of Health (NIAID), ViiV
Additional financial support provided by: AbbVie Inc., Assembly Biosciences


Virtual Registration Fees

Academic Virtual Package: $255
Student Virtual Package: $150
Corporate Virtual Package: $375

Late Pricing (registrations submitted after 5:00 p.m. ET on October 14, 2021)
Late Virtual Academic Package: $355
Late Virtual Graduate Student Package: $250
Late Virtual Corporate Package: $435

Academic Lab Group Discounts not departmental or institutional discounts - requests must be submitted before 5:00 pm ET on October 14, 2021
Labs registering 4 people: 20% discount off applicable fee
Labs registering 5 people: 25%
Labs registering 6+ people: 30%

Reduced Pricing for Individuals from US/Canadian Minority Serving Institutions (check eligibility): $25

Reduced Pricing for Individuals from Low & Middle Income Countries (check eligibility): $25

Virtual 4 day live meeting + 6 weeks archive access

Card image cap
~40 talks / 9 sessions
(late am/early pm)
~24 total hours with interactive Q&A
Card image cap
~50 posters with
dedicated slack channels for each poster
Card image cap
Virtual Social Events~
Icebreaker, "Breakout" Social
Card image cap
Leading Strand video archive access to talks
Card image cap
Digital program in PDF format