The architecture of our adult tissues and organs is established during development before, and shortly after, birth. It is clear that an individual's development can be critically impacted by genetics, the quality of the gametes involved in conception, as well as the in uteroand postnatal environments. Thus, events before birth and in the early postnatal period can increase the chances of birth defects, childhood disease, and chronic disease in adulthood.
Understanding the basis of organ development is the key to the development of regenerative therapies. Unlocking the potential of stem cells is a high priority for regenerative medicine and for improving treatment options for a number of conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurological disease, autoimmune disease and cancer.
Emerging evidence is also suggesting that compromised development and adult health can be transmitted across generations. This is achieved through a range of mechanisms broadly characterized as epigenetic. As such, the mechanisms that define germ cell development/function and the importance of epigenetics broadly is a focus of this theme.