President's Message

January 2022

Dear Colleagues,

Firstly, I wanted to wish everyone a very Happy New Year. After a couple of very challenging years, I am sure we are all looking forward to a better 2022, and it is pleasing that there are now very encouraging signs that we are emerging from the worse of the pandemic.

With that in mind, I’m delighted to announce the opening today of registrations and abstract submissions for our 2022 Annual Meeting, to be held in Zurich June 15-18th. Behind the scenes our Local Organising, Scientific Affairs, Early-career, EDI and Executive Committees have been working very hard to develop the outstanding scientific line-up and social events we have all come to value at our annual PNIRS meeting. As previously announced, this will include Staci Bilbo giving the Norman Cousins award lecture, Julie Lasselin the Ader Award lecture and Joni Kipnis the Frontiers in PNI lecture. Social activities will include the very popular ‘Trainee-mentor speed dating’ event on the first evening, a welcome reception on the ETH polyterrace with stunning views over Zurich and the alps and our closing banquet in the stunning Bauschanzli restaurant, located on an island in the historic old town and claims to have the largest beer garden outside the Munich Octoberfest!

Reflecting the theme of this year’s meeting ‘PNI in translation: From Psychoneuroimmunology to Immunopsychiatry’, it is a pleasure to announce that the speakers for this year’s Presidential Symposium ‘PNI in Translation’ will be Anindya Bhattacharya (J&J), Marion Leboyer (Paris) and Diego Gomez-Nicola (Southampton). These speakers have a mixture of industry and academic backgrounds and will provide insights into how advances in understanding PNI mechanisms are being translated into potential new therapies for human disease ranging from depression to neurodegenerative diseases.

Perhaps as a reflection of our desire to return to face-to-face meetings we had an unprecedented number (>20) of high-quality submissions for Member Sponsored Symposia this year which made selection extremely challenging. After considerable discussion this year’s symposia will be: 1) Neuroimmune mechanisms linking early life stress and adolescent mental health; 2) Cancer and cancer-treatment associated behavioural co-morbidities: Emerging target; 3) The rise of immunometabolic depression; 4) The cumulative cost of discrimination and marginalisation on PNI-related health.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our members who submitted/ contributed to the proposed symposia, and as we now open registration and abstract submissions, remind all members that there are still many opportunities to present your work either orally or as a poster at PNIRS 2022. When submitting your abstracts please indicate whether you would prefer oral or poster presentation. All abstracts will be reviewed by the Scientific Affairs Committee and top-rated submissions will be selected for oral presentation in one of three oral sessions.

Related to our upcoming meeting, a number of members have asked about potential COVID-related mitigation measures in place in Switzerland. I’d like to take this opportunity to reassure members that Switzerland continues to take a robust approach to public health to mitigate the spread and impact of SARS-CoV2. Current coronavirus regulations stipulate that visitors to the country must be either fully vaccinated (or have evidence of prior infection) or undergo daily antigen testing which is available across their pharmacy network. At this time face masks must be worn inside lecture theatres. Further details of this can be found on the PNIRS meeting webpage.

PNIRS remains fully committed to holding our first in-person meeting in three years and we are very much looking forward to meeting in Zurich. However, should circumstances dictate that we will need to switch to an on-line meeting we will ensure that members are fully updated at least 6 weeks in advance and will aim to reimburse members with any associated cost savings.

In other news, I would like to give a warm welcome to Meg Gorham, our new Executive Director with Degnon Associates and to thank Marianne Van Wagner our outgoing Director.

Looking forward to seeing you all in Zurich in June!

Neil Harrison


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