A Tribute to Elena Korneva: Reversal of Aging and Cancer by Pavlovian Conditioning: Neuroimmunomodulation – Some History


This paper is a tribute to Professor Elena Korneva, a great research scientist, pioneer in the field of interactions between the nervous and immune systems, and a teacher of physicians and scientists, who in turn have spread to the four corners of the world and fertilized many fields of physiology. It is fitting that a volume of the Russian Journal of Physiology is dedicated to E. Korneva. Following the lead of I. M. Sechenov, often called the “Father of Modern Neurophysiology,” many Russians have made major contributions to the new and ever-expanding science of neuroimmunomodulation (NIM), starting with the demonstration in 1891 [83B, 93] by Savchenko that the spinal cord system of birds controls some immune responses, and extended to the cerebral cortex by London in 1889 [64B]. Working at the Pasteur Institute in the 1920s, S. Metalnikov [72, 73] demonstrated that immune response on rabbits could be conditioned, while the colleague and successor to Pavlov, A. Dolin, in Russia, in the 1930s, with his coworker, extended this work to many species, including humans [21, 22, 23]. While working as a Professor of Physiology in Lyon, France, a half-century ago, I attended a seminar by Professor Korneva, which dramatically changed the whole direction of my research. I had done many experiments and lectured extensively on the many functions of the hypothalamus. I was astounded to know of an entirely new (to me) and important physiological function of this vital area at the base of the brain: Korneva, with colleagues and her pupils, demonstrated that lesions and/or stimulation of some areas in the hypothalamus could affect peripheral immune responses! This led to my own research, at first looking at the effects of lesions in the hypothalamus upon peripheral antibodies to viruses, malarial parasites, cancers, and eventually to the now ever-expanding field of NIM (the multiple three-way intersections among the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems, some of which is reviewed below.) I will also deal with some history of NIM, a history that owes much to the original inspiration provided by Dr. Korneva. It is worthy of note that, at the 1987 Congress of the European Society of Immunology in Zagreb, Yugolsavia, where more than 500 scientists from many countries unanimously voted to establish the International Society for Neuroimmunomodulation (ISNIM), Professor Korneva was elected the Society’s first Vice-President. I was elected President, and subsequently at the First International Congress of the ISNIM, it was my great pleasure to award Korneva the “Presidential Citation of Honor” (only four were ever awarded) for her pioneering and inspiring work in the field of NIM research.

DOI: 10.1007/s11055-010-9386-1

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@article{Spector2009ATT, title={A Tribute to Elena Korneva: Reversal of Aging and Cancer by Pavlovian Conditioning: Neuroimmunomodulation – Some History}, author={Novera Herb Spector}, journal={Neuroscience and Behavioral Physiology}, year={2009}, volume={41}, pages={102-116} }