This R13 meeting proposal requests support to continue an annual training and mentoring program for 25 pre- and post-doctoral trainees at the 2010 meeting of the PsychoNeuroImmunology Research Society (PNIRS) to be held at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, June 2-5, 2010. Opportunities for advanced, interdisciplinary training of younger scientists interested in the basic science aspects of behavioral and neuroimmune interactions and their translational relevance for disease prevention and treatment are often limited at the university level. Since 1999, the PNIRS conference has received NIH support to provide formal didactic instruction and constructive career guidance for over 200 fellows. The primary goal is to create pedagogical opportunities and offer supportive mentoring at this formative stage in the trainee's career in order to enhance their research potential and trajectory for success. Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI)-related research has shown that psychological factors and life style can impact immune competence and influence disease susceptibility and progression. In addition to the relevance for infectious illness and autoimmunity, the findings are germane to cancer and help to account for variations in cancer morbidity and mortality as well as quality of life. PNI also offers unique assessment strategies and outcome measures for evaluating the efficacy of nontraditional and complementary medicine approaches. Based on an enriched understanding of brain-immune interactions, PNI has also provided novel insights into the potential contributions of the immune system to neuropsychiatric disorders, mental health, and aging. The PNIRS is the primary professional organization representing the many diverse scientific disciplines involved in these types of inquiry. The Society has approximately 300 regular members, including 40% at the early career stage. A Trainee Scholars Advisory Committee oversees the Society's commitment to the mentoring program and ensures its quality. The committee is comprised of Society officers and meeting organizers, and benefits from at least 10 Senior Faculty Mentors who volunteer to participate in the training colloquium each year. Selection of the 25 Trainee Scholars (including 5 Diversity Trainees) is based on an open competition, and is determined by evaluation of a submitted abstract, research excellence and career promise. The impact of this program has been amply documented by the productivity of former awardees and their success in obtaining tenure-track faculty positions. A testament to the success of trainee program is the fact that the applicant of this R13 grant (Dr. Firdaus Dhabhar, Stanford University) and the local organizer of the 2010 meeting in Dublin (Dr. Thomas Connor, Trinity College Dublin) are both previous recipients of trainee awards. In addition to the exposure to cutting edge science, plenary lectures, and symposia offered by leading scientists, the trainees participate in an Educational Short Course, a mentoring colloquium with Senior Faculty, and two workshops with Junior Faculty and NIH program staff, who provide advice on career building, grant writing and funding opportunities. There are also luncheon roundtable discussions and a trainee dinner to nurture the establishment of enduring, collaborative and professional relationships. This training and mentoring program is congruent with a primary aim of the NIH roadmap, which is to ensure the successful creation and productivity of the future scientific workforce of the United States.
This R13 meeting award will enable 25 of the most promising pre- and post-doctoral research scientists to participate in the upcoming 2010 PsychoNeuroImmunology Research Society conference to be held at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, June 2-5, 2010. These Scholar Awardees will have the opportunity to disseminate their findings and participate in special training and mentoring activities that will improve their likelihood of having a successful career in interdisciplinary basic science and translational research. The highly interdisciplinary nature of the PNIRS is germane to the missions of numerous Institutes and Centers at NIH including but not limited to: the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).