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The 2013 symposium "The Multi-tasking Endoplasmic Reticulum in Health and Disease" will begin in the afternoon on Wednesday, May 1 and conclude the evening of May 3rd. The endoplasmic reticulum, the ER, is now recognized as a central control point for compartmental organization of the eukaryotic cell. It manages human health span from the germline/stem cell to the aging population directing renewal of tissues and protecting us throughout life from challenges to physiological stress. Beyond managing the folding and degradation of proteins comprising at least one-third of the eukaryotic genome that generate the communication systems that facilitate multicellular organization, it regulates membrane trafficking driving cell specialization during development. It is essential for compartmentalization of the nucleus and the structure of chromatin. It performs specialized functions such as detoxification by the liver and management of the metabolome by the pancreatic Beta-cell. More recently, a flurry of proposed new activities associated with the ER include the regulation of mitochondrial function, peroxisome biogenesis, autophagosome/phagoautosome formation as well as specialized ER domains that link to antigen cross presentation in the immune system, and cross-talk with viral and bacterial pathogens. The apparent old and new multitasking activities of the ER now serve as the catalyst to bring together a diverse pool of investigators to explore in depth and challenge traditional views of ER function that will help define the ER as a heretofore unanticipated central regulator of eukaryotic function from birth to death through its ability to manage and integrate metabolic, biosynthetic and signaling pathways responsible for human health span.