Keystone Symposia 50th Anniversary Website




Founded in 1972, Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cell Biology is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a rich history of convening field leaders and rising stars together to discuss emerging scientific discoveries and inspire each other to drive research in innovative new directions.  Equally important to Keystone Symposia’s legacy are the relationships forged at our conferences, which catalyze collaborations and mentorship opportunities that serve attendees throughout their careers.  We are proud to share this milestone with the community, as we look back on 50 years of memories and formative moments in science, and look forward to what the next 50 has in store.

To commemorate this important anniversary, we will be revisiting the memorable moments that shaped Keystone Symposia’s story. We will hear from field leaders who have been integral to the organization throughout the years, as they tell their tales of seminal moments that changed the course of science history.  We will look back on the evolution of science, and how novel discoveries blossomed into entirely new fields, while emerging fields bloomed into transformative medical advances.  Most importantly we will showcase the brilliant minds and vibrant personalities that led the way, year after year, as pillars of the Keystone Symposia community.

Along the way, Keystone Symposia has shaped the research and careers of many, and we look forward to hearing your stories! Your stories are our story, and we encourage you to share these memories with us here as we weave our stories together.


Below we highlight the core aspects of Keystone Symposia’s identity, which have guided the organization since the very beginning and continue to drive our vision for the future.


Keystone Symposia’s mission is to catalyze life science discovery with real-world impact on society. We aim to accelerate transformational advances in science and medicine by bringing scientists together across boundaries, to derive novel insights and spark innovative ideas.  The cross-disciplinary and integrative nature of our conferences bring together diverse perspectives and strengths across academic and industry sectors, basic science and clinical medicine, technology development and disease research, to tackle today’s greatest challenges in science and medicine.

A Unique and Memorable Experience

The Keystone Symposia brand is renowned for conferences in retreat-like mountain venues, with small group sizes to optimize informal networking experiences for attendees. Programs adhere to a unique format that features afternoon breaks, as well as group activities and meals, to foster spontaneous interactions and connections between scientists that lead to lasting relationships and collaborations. We believe the value provided in these experiences is critical to advance the research and careers of our attendees, as well as to promote progress in the field as a whole.

Inspiring Science

Over the years Keystone Symposia has hosted a total of 1,575 conferences in 103 locations around the world, now averaging 55-60 conferences per year.  Topics range from basic sciences like genomics, virology, and plant biology, to clinical topics like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and global health. All are known for exploring emerging, unpublished work and new horizons in research that will shape the future of the field.

Keystone Symposia invests heavily in new and emerging topics, having held the first seminal conference on AIDS in 1984, and continues to pioneer new subjects like the microbiome, synthetic biology and digital health.  In addition, programs aim to bridge disparate fields to enable crosstalk and cross-disciplinary insights that will drive fields in new directions. A core aspect of all programs is to feature cutting-edge tools, technologies and computational methods that will be transformational for scientific research and medical capabilities.

Career Advancement

Although Keystone Symposia is an organization for scientific advancement, we offer far more than just cutting-edge science. Underneath, we are an organization for the advancement of scientists within our community, offering career inspiration, guidance and support towards career success on many levels. It is our mission to train the next-generation of scientists, who will drive research and medicine in new directions as the innovators and thought-leaders of tomorrow.

To support career development, we provide scholarships for early career scientists to attend our conferences and present their work alongside field leaders.  Indeed Keystone Symposia conferences are known for showcasing rising stars in the field who go on to become field leaders themselves. Through career panels and workshops, we also facilitate mentorship and networking opportunities that form the foundation for long-term success.


Diversity, equity, and inclusion, are a crucial aspect of Keystone Symposia’s mission. We strive to provide an environment that fosters diversity across a myriad of measures, including ethnicity, gender, age, affiliation and geographic representation, and career trajectory, among others.

To support diversity at our conferences, and in the scientific workforce at large, our Diversity in Life Sciences Programs offer a number of opportunities for scientists from underrepresented backgrounds, and low- and middle- income countries.  These programs include various scholarships and travel awards to attend our conferences and present their work and network with global audiences. In addition, the Keystone Symposia Fellows Program provides leadership training for early-career scientists from UR backgrounds to enable them to achieve their career goals and attain leadership positions across academia, industry and government sectors.

Virtual Keystone Symposia

Virtual Keystone Symposia is an initiative to extend the reach and impact of life-science research to broader audiences worldwide, via digital media technologies. The platform offers an invaluable resource to the global scientific community, featuring conversations at the intersection of science and society like our Health Disparities Series.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, this initiative was expanded to create the eSymposia platform for virtual meetings, where Keystone Symposia led the field in creating a dynamic and interactive virtual platform for information exchange, networking and collaboration.  The eSymposia series enabled participants from all around the world to continue to work together to advance science and medicine despite challenges posed by the pandemic.

Click here to access the 2019 Annual Report for more information about Keystone Symposia activities and programs.

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