President's Message

September 2021

Dear Colleagues,

I am delighted and honored to serve as President of PNIRS for 2021-22. In this welcome message, I wanted first to thank our outgoing President Julie Bower, the PNIRS Committees and our executive management group for the outstanding work they have done for the society over the last two years. I wanted to spend a moment reflecting on the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on our society, our members, and their families. Finally, I wanted to provide some updates on the year ahead, particularly our 2022 annual meeting in Zurich (June 15th-18th), our first face-to-face meeting since Berlin in 2019.

Firstly, I would like to thank Julie Bower for the outstanding job she has done in steering the society through the pandemic. This included, taking the brave decision to cancel the 2020 LA meeting in early March of that year when the full impact of the pandemic was yet to become fully apparent. This quick decision, coupled with the assistance of Marianne Van Wagner’s executive management group meant that PNIRS suffered minimal financial impact. Recognizing the need for stability over this period Julie (and all of the members of the other PNIRS committees) immediately agreed to extend their term of service by one year, making Julie only the second PNIRS President to serve a two year term (and the first since Bruce Rabin in 1994-96). 

Despite the challenges of the Pandemic, much has been achieved over this period. We have a new refreshed website and logo, and the PNIRS Presents seminar series has helped us remain connected and has brought PNI to a far broader audience. Of course, we also had our first, highly successful virtual PNIRS conference. Together, this has ensured that we have continued to grow as a society (we welcomed >200 new or returning members last year) and are able to move forward on a secure financial foundation. This of course would not have been possible without the hard work and commitment of each of our PNIRS committees.

Before moving on to discuss plans for the coming year I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the personal losses and suffering that many of us will have experienced over the last 18 months. Sadly, this included losing one of the PNIRS founding fathers, Mark Laudenslager. We are grateful to Monika Fleshner for her poignant piece on Mark published in BBI and available on the In-Memorandum section of the PNIRS website. My thoughts and condolences go out to all of us who have suffered losses over this difficult period.

Looking forward to the future. I am happy to say that the PNIRS Presents Lecture series will continue in the autumn (fall) of 2021 and spring 2022 in the lead up to our Annual Meeting in Zurich in June 2022. The fall series will kick off with Manfred Schedlowski: ‘Teach the T cells: How Learning is Shaping Immunity’ on Tuesday 12th October at 4pm GMT and finish with Keith Kelley’s historical overview ‘From PNI to Immunopsychiatry’ on Tuesday 14th December 4pm GMT. Registration details for these and each of the other monthly talks will be emailed to members and listed on the PNIRS website as previously.

Moving on to our Annual Meeting. I am delighted to confirm that PNIRS 2022 will be held June 15th-18th 2022 in the beautiful setting of the ETH Main Building in Zurich, Switzerland - The theme of the meeting: ‘PNI in translation: From Psychoneuroimmunology to Immunopsychiatry’ will be echoed throughout the meeting emphasizing the importance of basic PNI research and how these are beginning to feed through into clinical benefit. Currently we have three confirmed speakers: Norman Cousins award winner Staci Bilbo,Robert Ader award winner Julie Lasselin and Glaser Frontiers in PNI lecturer Joni Kipnis

The short course will draw on the strengths of our local organizing committee: Urs Meyer, Ulrike Weber and Tina Notter and collaborators and will focus on how pre-clinical models are advancing our understanding of immune mechanisms in human brain disorders. To celebrate the return to a face-to-face meeting and the increasing diversity of our membership we will also increase the number of member-sponsored symposia. Look out for the call for symposia proposals in early October which will prioritize proposals that include basic and clinically applied research and researchers from a diversity of backgrounds

Finally, our local organizing committee is also making great progress in securing local sponsors for our 2022 meeting which will be used to maximize social interactive elements, opportunities to network in convivial environments and support our new and early career members to rapidly feel part of the PNIRS family.

Thank you for your attention and look forward to seeing you in person in Zurich in June next year!

Kind regards,

Neil Harrison

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