This year's Cold Spring Harbor meeting on programmed cell death (September 17–21, 2003), organised by Craig Thompson and Junying Yuan, was proof that the 'golden age' of research in this field is far from over. There was a flurry of fascinating insights into the regulation of diverse apoptotic pathways and unexpected non-apoptotic roles for some of the key apoptotic regulators and effectors. In addition to their role in cell death, components of the apoptotic molecular machinery are now known to also function in a variety of essential cellular processes, such as regulating glucose homeostasis, lipid metabolism, cell proliferation and differentiation.
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