Last year, I gave a talk at the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society (PNIRS) Annual Meeting. Whatever the merits of the research presented at this meeting … I had a good time and I was tasked with giving a very basic talk as part of a short course. The short course was titled, “A Tutorial on 21st Century Molecular Biology.” I think the reason the conference organizers felt this course would be beneficial is that a large chunk of the researchers in this society are psychologists and psychiatrists; who do not have training in the latest and greatest in cell and molecular biology but they are trying (really, really hard!) to understand how the immune system interacts with the central nervous system, resulting in behavioral changes. In my opinion, they are trying to follow in the footsteps of Richard Sapolsky (who, it seems, has since moved on to other topics), who pioneered the study of stress & stress hormones (e.g., corticosterone), an immune suppressor, and their effects on brain signaling and brain structure, resulting in behavioral changes (e.g., depression). Though a lot of the research done now by adherents, has some serious issues on identifying causality and publish such things as “healing touch” for treatment of PTSD.
My lecture for this educational short course was titled, “The Basics of MicroRNA: A Newly Appreciated Genetic Modulator.” I liked this presentation because it anthropomorphizes microRNA as a stick-figure with a sheriff’s badge.