Fast-forward to more years of innovative research on G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) ahead of us!

Source: RI-MUHC, bStéphane Laporte, PhD

The GPCR Retreat has become a world-leading forum since its inception in 1999, much like the Gordon Research Conferences and Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) meetings. Academic and industrial scientists share their recent findings and latest ideas in order to understand how the largest family of membrane receptors regulates physiological functions, and how they can be therapeutically harnessed to treat diseases. This year we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the GPCR Retreat in Bromont, Quebec (September 26-28).

Through the years the meeting has travelled from the U.S. around the Great Lakes to Ontario and then Quebec, attracting career scientists at all stages, including Nobel laureates. For this historic anniversary we made no exception, and welcomed two co-winners of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to the scenic Eastern Townships area. Dr. Robert Lefkowitz of Duke University is unquestionably one of the pioneers in deciphering how GPCRs regulate cellular events and in cloning many of these receptors, while Dr. Brian Kobilka crystalized ß-adrenergic receptors, among many other GPCRs.

For Dr. Lefkowitz’s first lecture, over and above the exceptional registration of more than 245 participants from the U.S., Canada, Europe, China and elsewhere, we opened our doors to 150 undergraduate students in pharmacology and physiology from the University of Sherbrooke (my alma mater). It was an inspiring experience at many levels, for our trainees and all of us, as well!

None of this would, of course, have been possible without the continued support of our many sponsors through the years, including the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), which was instrumental in building the reputation of the GPCR Retreat. Twenty years in, I am still amazed to witness how vibrant the field of GPCR research is, and I expect to see even greater innovative research and discoveries in the years to come. I also hope to see many of you next year in Toronto for the twenty-first GPCR Retreat!

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Members of the 2019 GPCR Retreat organizing committee with Dr. Brian Kobilka. Left to right: Professors and researchers Eric Marsault (University of Sherbrooke), Christine Lavoie (University of Sherbrooke), Brian Kobilka (2012 Nobel laureate in chemistry), Richard Leduc (University of Sherbrooke), Stéphane Laporte (McGill University and Research Institute of the MUHC) and Louis Gendron (University of Sherbrooke). Missing in the photo is Stephen Ferguson (University of Ottawa).