Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved “self-eating” process whereby cells degrade their own cellular material. It is involved in protein and organelle degradation and plays an essential role in both cellular and whole-animal homeostasis. Recent studies have shown that dysfunction in autophagy has been implicated in an increasing number of diseases from bacterial and viral infections to cancer and more recently in neurodegeneration and other ageing-related diseases. Thus autophagy has become one of the major challenges for research in biology and for the discovery of new therapeutic approaches.
In the UK there are many laboratories studying this important process and a UK network of researchers has been organised to bring the community together. The main activity of the network is to run an annual meeting where researchers from all over the UK, with particular emphasis on PhD and post-docs, that are studying autophagy can get together and share their results, approaches and ideas.