Integrative Immunology and Behavior Program

Welcome to the Integrative Immunology and Behavior (IIB) Program at the University of Illinois. Our transdisciplinary group of faculty, undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate trainees explores endocrine, immune, neuroimmune and behavioral interconnections within the broad field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). Animal and human behavior, ultimately, represents a complex interweave of factors including canonical signals from brain to periphery and the less understood communications from periphery to brain. During life adverse events such as psychological stress or chronic disease, the signaling molecules relevant to said physiologic disruptions can be difficult to discern. Examination of behavior, however, can often facilitate the nature of the relevant bioactives whether they are hormones, neurotransmitters and/or cytokines. Therefore, when studying the brain, behavioral phenotyping is a key approach that is significantly more sensitive than the direct measurement of a single analyte when initially assessing the neurobehavioral relevance of a particular challenge or therapeutic intervention. Classically, PNI-related research focused on sickness symptoms linked to bacteria-associated danger signals (immunobehaviors) but neuroimmune activation is now recognized as a complication in many diseases and disorders ranging from cancer to diabesity to aging. Sickness symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite and disinterest in social activity, environmental exploration and physical activity. Left unchecked, these acute behaviors can progress to anxiety, depression and cognitive decline. Please explore our website to discover more about the exciting PNI-related research performed at the University of Illinois and to learn about unique research and educational opportunities within the IIB program.           


Questions about the website or program?  Please contact Dr. Robert McCusker at