PNIRS 2012 (thoughts from)

This was the first time that I attended the Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) Research Society’s annual meeting. For more details, see their website I have been fascinated by PNI for about a year now, but it is not (yet) a primary part of my research. I am a (research) health psychologist by training, so I am more familiar with the psychological aspect of PNI more than I am with the neuroscience or basic immunology and biology.

The presentations spanned a nice mix of topics at different levels of the systems being studied. I would say the majority of presentations were mechanistic and many were based on animal models that allowed careful delineation of pathways via experimentation. One big difference from most of the psychological research I am used to was that the programs of research typically seemed to involve many small experiments, each of which worked out one very specific mechanism. By contrast, in more psychological PNI work, I tend to see larger studies where a ton of data (physiological and psychological) are collected on humans and then one study (many are observational, sometimes longitudinal, with some experiments) is examined from many different angles. This was the first conference where I really took notes and am making an attempt to synthesize and summarize the content, so it may be rather rough. PNIRS is a small conference so you actually can attend every talk (there is no overlapping time), but I am only going to write about a few I found particularly interesting.

This year, PNIRS was held in San Diego, California (USA).  The city, weather, and my hotel all have been lovely (checkout the view from my hotel here).  It is overcast in the morning, but sunny during the day and afternoon, and the conference is right on the San Diego waterfront next to the gas lamp district.  My hotel was about a kilometer from the conference, so each morning and evening, I had a pleasant walk. Next year, the conference will be held in Stockholm, Sweden.  I am going to make a separate post on my thoughts and impressions from the presentations each day or this would get very long.

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