12th International Symposium for Mechanisms of Vasodilatation: Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Announcement of NO as a Vasodilator Molecule

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What began in 1977 as the brainchild of Paul M. Vanhoutte (and Isidore Leusen) evolved into a long-standing, international, pharmacological, and physiological specialty meeting (Table 1). As the title implies, the symposium was designed to inform and develop collaborations between seasoned and young investigators with an interest in understanding the mechanisms of vasodilatation (MOVD), at a time where little was understood about the complexity of the interactions between local and systemic regulation of vascular tone leading to changes in blood flow. Initially, mechanisms focused on factors affecting autonomic control of the vasculature smooth muscle, expanding the repertoire of neurotransmitters, their receptors, receptor antagonists, and intracellular mediators modulating vascular smooth muscle contraction, with special interest for inhibitory signals. This focus took a dramatic shift in 1983 with the discovery that the endothelium released a vasodilator substance or substances then referred to as endothelium-derived relaxing factor(s) (EDRF), thus opening a new era into regulatory processes of the vasculature. Identification of EDRF as nitric oxide (NO) followed in 1986 at the Mechanisms meeting in Rochester, MN. The 12th MOVD marked the 30th anniversary of this announcement. Investigators (Fig. 1), many of whom were present at the announcement in 1986 returned to Rochester, MN, at the Mayo Clinic to celebrate this discovery and to share their research into future advancements in vascular control.
The format of the meeting has not changed much since its inception, with a program built around abstracts submitted by the participants, with the exception over the years of the addition of named lectures (Table 2) honoring those who have made major contributions to discoveries, leading to our understanding of vascular function in general and vasodilatation in particular: John T. Shepherd for his seminal work on the reflex control of vascular tone; Robert F. Furchgott for the discovery of EDRF and NO; David F. Bohr for his pursuit of the understanding of the mechanisms controlling calcium homeostasis in vascular smooth muscle; Björn Folkow for unraveling the role of myogenic tone and demonstrating the importance of remodeling of the vascular wall; and Paul M. Vanhoutte for his efforts in adjusting vascular pharmacology to pathophysiology. The named lecturers were nominated by their peers and selected by vote of an international panel of established scientists. New and emerging concepts of mechanisms of vascular control given by the named lecturers at the 2016 MOVD are contained in this issue of the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology.
These distinguished scientists set the stage and entice future researchers to make discoveries into the basic mechanisms of vasodilatation that will help to provide information to develop new preventive and therapeutic targets to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease for future generations. The tradition of named lecturers will continue because the next MOVD meeting is already planned in 2019 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, under the expert guidance of Jan Danser, PhD, Head of the Laboratory of Pharmacology, Erasmus Medical College.
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