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MexNIRS Symposium

1st Mexican SymLogoMexNIRS2017posium on Near Infared Spectroscopy Neuroimaging (MexNIRS); Global NIRS

Felipe Orihuela-Espina

October 20-21st, 2017, Prof. Maria Angela Franceschini and I will be chairing the 1st Mexican Symposium on Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (MexNIRS) at the Instituto Nacional de Astrofísica, Óptica y Electrónica (INAOE). This is the first conference on neuroimaging using NIRS to be held in Mexico. To promote the use of NIRS as a practical tool for neurological assessment in remote underdeveloped communities, it will focus on Global NIRS research.

This all started last September when, feeling a bit isolated as the lone NIRS user in Mexico, I applied to the Mexican Research Council (CONACYT) for a small grant. My goal was to start a national discussion about applying the technology across a range of research topics. When CONACYT approved the grant in early February, my first response was to approach Prof. Franceschini to join me as a co-chair.

Following her suggestion, we agreed the focus of the meeting should be Global NIRS, an appealing topic both nationally and internationally. Mexico is one of the largest countries in the world by size and is ranked by the United Nations as quite low in income equality based on the Gini coefficient (currently 123 out of 159 countries). This makes the topic of Global NIRS particularly relevant to Mexico, where some indigenous communities have no access to health services.

Prof. Franceschini quickly gathered an outstanding group of international speakers, while I struggled to find national counterparts. This is further evidence of how underutilized NIRS is in Mexico. Clare Elwell will deliver the opening keynote, providing first-hand knowledge from the field. Additional speakers on application in the field include John Spencer, Kaja Jasinska, Nasser Kashou, and Prof. Franceschini. State of the art discussions about the technology itself, methods, and applications will be covered by Joe Culver, Rickson Coelho Mesquita, Frédéric Lesage, Turgut Durduran, and Arjun Yodh. Contributions from Mexico will include a discussion about optics by Marija Strojnik and about analysis by me. David Boas will deliver the closing keynote.

The abstract deadline is June 30. We hope to have students participate (and we are currently looking for sponsors to support travel awards for best abstracts). We plan both oral presentations and posters by these contributors. Our goal is to include as many as possible to promote a scientifically rich symposium experience. And of course all attendees will get to enjoy Mexico!

In short, I am hopeful that the Mexican Symposium will result in a biennial event in Latin America while still attracting international contributions. And in the immediate term, I am optimistic that this symposium will provide yet another international forum for the NIRS community to discuss developments in the field, acting as a catalyst for the use of NIRS in a region whose potential is substantial.