Drosophila Board White Paper 2005
Explanatory Note: The first Drosophila White Paper was written in 1999. Revisions to this
document were made in 2001 and 2003.
At our 2004 meeting, the Drosophila Board of Directors decided to write a new White Paper to
take stock of the progress made in the preceding two years and to assess current and future
needs of the Drosophila research community. This draft was prepared by the Board, and
modified according to feedback received from the Drosophila research community.
The importance of the Drosophila model for understanding basic biological mechanisms is ever
more evident. The union of the powerful genetic manipulations built on a century of genetic
research on D. melanogaster with modern genomic technologies (many made possible through
the foresight and support of NIH) makes D. melanogaster an unparalleled model for
understanding animal biology. Further, the genus Drosophila has been an important model for
understanding animal populations and evolution. The striking level of conservation of many
genes, proteins and pathways between fly and human have ensured that Drosophila research is
directly relevant to human disease, and indeed, the vertebrate biological community often looks
to Drosophila research to identify candidate genes for pathways or diseases of interest, and to
provide insights into the mechanisms underlying these vertebrate processes. Key insights have
been gained in recent years into the genetic and cellular mechanisms of processes such as
neurodegeneration, vasculogenesis, the innate immune response, stem cell determination and
maintenance, cell and tissue polarity, signal transduction, growth control, neural control of
behavior and organogenesis.
In addition to insights gained for basic biology and human disease, Drosophila research also
impacts on human hea