DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): This R13 meeting proposal requests support to continue an annual training and mentoring program for 25 pre- and post-doctoral trainees at the upcoming 2008 meeting of the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society (PNIRS). Opportunities for advanced, interdisciplinary training of younger scientists interested in the basic science aspects of behavioral and neuroimmune interactions and the translational relevance for prevention and intervention research 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 nearly 200 fellows. The primary goal is to create pedagogical opportunities and offer supportive mentoring at this pivotal, formative stage in a trainee's career in order to enhance their research potential and trajectory for success.
PNI-related research has now definitively 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 neoplasia and help to account for variation in cancer morbidity and survival. PNI also offers unique assessment strategies and novel outcome measures for empirically evaluating the efficacy of nontraditional and complementary medicine approaches. The PNIRS is the primary professional organization representing the many diverse scientific disciplines involved in this type of inquiry. The society has approximately 300 regular members, including 40% at the early career stage.
A Trainee Scholars Advisory Committee oversees the organization's commitment to this mentoring and ensures the quality of the program. It is comprised of society officers and program organizers, and benefits from 10 Senior Faculty Mentors who volunteer to participate in the training colloquium each year. Selection of the 25 Trainee Scholars is based on an open competition, and determined by the excellence of their recent research and promise. The impact of this program has been amply documented by the productivity of former awardees and their success in obtaining tenure track positions. 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 and funding opportunities. At the May 28-31, 2008 meeting in Madison, WI, there will also be luncheon roundtable discussion sessions and a trainee dinner to nurture the establishment of enduring, collaborative and professional relationships. This training and mentoring program is thus congruent with one of the primary aims of the NIH roadmap: to ensure the successful creation and productivity of the future scientific workforce of the United States.
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