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Members of several families of viruses (e.g. adenovirus, parvoviruses, papillomaviruses, papovaviruses, herpesviruses, retroviruses, etc.) persist in human cells principally but not exclusively by establishing persistent or latent infections. In the course of latent infections, viral genomes are retained in an episomal state or become integrated into cellular chromosomes but retain the capacity to replicate and to cause significant morbidity. In recent years the application of novel tools based on protein-protein interactions, genomics, DNA arrays, etc. have significantly advanced our understanding of the diversity of mechanisms by which viruses establish latency. Among many key findings are identification of viral and cellular functions involved in the establishment of latency and reactivation from latent state. Equally important is the current research on suppression of reactivation and on deliberate reactivation of latent viruses in the presence of antiviral drugs. Latency is a frequent but small component of international and national meetings in virology. The splintering of meetings in virology into numerous workshops based on virus families, sometimes with only basic science or clinical components, concurrent with a huge proliferation of journals publishing virological communications has precluded meaningful interaction among younger and more established scientists in the various aspects of latency or between workers in diverse virus families. In recent years there has been no scientific meeting totally dedicated to viral latency, persistence, and control of latency. The intent of this new Keystone conference is to bring together current entrants to science (graduate students and postdoctoral trainees), key investigators, and newcomers working on fundamental aspects of viral persistence and on the efforts to control and ultimately eradicate latent viruses. We hope that the meeting will have a seminal impact on future research as well as attract a new generation of scientists to this field.

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