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Vol. LXIII, No. 6
March 18, 2011

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Nath Named New Clinical Director at NINDS

Photo of Dr. Avindra Nath

NINDS recently named Dr. Avindra Nath as its new intramural clinical director. He is internationally recognized for his contributions to elucidating HIV pathogenesis in the central nervous system. In addition to becoming clinical director and head of the NINDS section of infections of the nervous system, he will develop a center dedicated to translating new therapies for neurological disorders to clinical use.

“We are delighted that Dr. Nath will join the intramural program,” said NINDS director Dr. Story Landis. “He has an outstanding research program that adds strength to our neurovirology and neuroimmunology programs. Avi has superb leadership skills as well, which help ensure he will be an outstanding clinical director.”

“A major goal of Avi’s will be to develop a focused effort that can help accelerate translational efforts in NINDS in a way that can complement NIHwide efforts,” said NINDS scientific director Dr. Alan Koretsky. “Avi also will put a lot of emphasis on improving clinical training programs within NINDS. Finally, his joining will help ensure we continue to attract outstanding young clinician-scientists to the NINDS intramural research program.”

Early in the HIV epidemic, Nath and his colleagues discovered that Tat, a viral protein, could directly stimulate neurons. In subsequent studies, he found that Tat also activated glial cells leading to chemokine release that in turn cause macrophage recruitment into the central nervous system. Most recently, Nath discovered that some individuals with HIV—despite an excellent response to retroviral treatment—develop a devastating immune cellmediated encephalitis called CNS-immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome. He will continue his HIV investigations at NIH in collaboration with Dr. Clifford Lane in NIAID.

Nath also has helped to develop several neuroprotective compounds that are in various stages of development and clinical testing. Because of shared cellular and molecular mechanisms, these compounds may have potential use in a wide variety of neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory diseases.

Born in Saskatoon, Canada, Nath earned his medical degree from the Christian Medical College in Ludhiana, India, in 1981. He then completed both a neurology residency (1986) and a neuroimmunology fellowship (1988) at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. In 1990, he completed a fellowship in neurovirology at NINDS, working in the section of molecular virology and genetics in the Laboratory of Viral and Molecular Pathogenesis (LVMP) with Dr. Eugene Major, chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Medicine and Neuroscience, and Dr. Monique Dubois-Dalcq, who was then LVMP chief.

After leaving NIH in 1990, he joined the faculty of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, in the departments of medical microbiology and internal medicine. He left Manitoba in 1997 to join the faculty of the University of Kentucky in the microbiology and immunology and neurology departments.

Before returning to NIH, Nath was a professor of neurology and neuroscience. He held several leadership positions at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine: director of the Division of Neuroimmunology and Neurological Infections (DNNI); director of the Neurovirology and Neuroimmunology Laboratory (NNL) and co-director of the Neuro-AIDS Translational Research Center. As director of DNNI and NNL, he recruited an exceptional cadre of investigators and created the clinical fellowship program in neuroimmunology and neurological infections— the only one of its kind in the country.

Nath has published more than 200 manuscripts, reviews and book chapters and served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Neurovirology and Current HIV Research. He also has edited a book on clinical neurovirology. Currently, he chairs the section of neuro-infectious diseases of the American Academy of Neurology and serves as vice president of the International Society of Neurovirology. Nath is an elected member of the American Neurological Association.

Gerratana Joins Staff at NIGMS

Photo of Dr. Barbara Gerratana

Dr. Barbara Gerratana recently joined NIGMS as a program director in the Division of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biological Chemistry, where she will be responsible for research grants on enzyme catalysis and regulation. Before coming to NIGMS, she served as an associate professor with tenure in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Maryland. Gerratana earned a B.S. in chemistry from the Università degli Studi di Pavia in Pavia, Italy, and a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin.

Photo of Dr. Farhad Memarzadeh (l), director, Division of Technical Resources
Dr. Farhad Memarzadeh (l), director, Division of Technical Resources, Office of Research Facilities, receives a 2011 Energy Star Award on behalf of NIH from Gary McNeil of the EPA..

EPA Lauds NIH Energy Conservation Efforts

The Environmental Protection Agency recently recognized NIH as one of three facilities to earn the Energy Star Combined Heat and Power (CHP) award for simultaneously producing electricity and useful thermal energy from a single energy source such as natural gas, biomass, coal or waste heat. “Cogeneration” technology leads to energy savings and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants.

NIH’s Cogeneration Plant adjacent to Bldg. 11 is one of the cleanest ever built in the world with an average 10 parts per million of nitrogen oxide emission. The plant began operation in 2002, using a natural gas-fired CHP system. The plant produces energy savings of 640 billion BTUs a year—the equivalent of the energy used in about 5,000 homes in a year.

NIH’s CHP system—designed and developed by Pepco Energy Services—generates up to 23 megawatts of electricity for the local grid. By using otherwise-wasted heat from the exhaust of the combustion turbine, it also produces up to 180,000 pounds per hour of steam that is used to provide heating, cooling and to support laboratory operations. Cogeneration saves NIH an estimated $4 million each year in steam and electricity costs.

With an operating efficiency of 76 percent, the CHP system requires approximately 31 percent less fuel than a typical energy-supply system. By comparison, the efficiency of separate production of electricity and thermal energy is typically less than 50 percent. The CHP system prevents an estimated 51,400 tons of CO2 emissions annually, equivalent to the emissions of more than 8,900 passenger vehicles.

New Members Join NIGMS Council

Photo of Members of the NIGMS Council
NIGMS director Dr. Jeremy Berg (second from r) welcomes new members to the institute’s advisory council. Pictured are (from l) Dr. Luisa DiPietro, Dr. David O. Meltzer, Dr. Karolin Luger and Dr. Denise J. Montell.

Four new members have joined the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council.

Dr. Luisa DiPietro is a professor of periodontics and director of the Center for Wound Healing and Tissue Regeneration at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She studies how wounds heal, with the ultimate goal of developing therapies that will allow humans to regenerate scar-free tissue after an injury.

Dr. Karolin Luger is university distinguished professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. She studies structural transitions of chromatin using X-ray crystallography, fluorescence techniques and other biophysical approaches.

Dr. David O. Meltzer is chief of the section of hospital medicine and director of the Center for Health and the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago, where he analyzes techniques to evaluate the cost and effectiveness of medical technologies.

Dr. Denise J. Montell is a professor of biological chemistry and director of the Center for Cell Dynamics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate cell migration, which is critical to immunity, wound healing and tumor metastasis.

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