Dr. Avindra Nath, NINDS intramural clinical director, was recently elected president of the International Society for NeuroVirology (ISNV).
ISNV is a non-profit, international forum for researchers and clinician scientists who study neurovirology. The society’s purpose is to advance collaboration among scientists in all aspects of neurovirology and related disciplines in order to further knowledge in the area and to promote the clinical application of this knowledge to prevent and treat neuroinflammation and pathophysiology of viral encephalitides (inflammatory brain conditions).
To achieve these goals, the group organizes and sponsors international meetings and produces a bi-monthly publication, the Journal of NeuroVirology.
According to Nath—who is one of the ISNV founders and has previously served as its vice president—the field of neurovirology faces many challenges.
“Currently, besides herpes encephalitis, there is no effective treatment for other causes of viral encephalitis but these are important causes of morbidity and mortality,” he said. “With the increasing use of immunomodulatory therapies for cancer and autoimmune diseases, the incidence of viral infections of the brain continues to increase. There have also been several recent outbreaks of CNS infections that include West Nile encephalitis, influenza virus and iatrogenic fungal meningitis.”
As ISNV president, Nath plans to engage other neurovirologists to develop clinical practice guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of viral infections of the brain. He also wants the group to develop a web site that provides up-to-date information on nervous system infections for the lay public and researchers and to assist in training researchers in neurovirology by providing travel grants and awards for outstanding research and encouraging mentorship across institutions.
Nath earned his medical degree from Christian Medical College in Ludhiana, India. He completed both a neurology residency and a neuroimmunology fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston and a fellowship in neurovirology at NINDS, working in the Laboratory of Viral and Molecular Pathogenesis.
He left NIH in 1990 to join the faculty of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. In 1997, he joined the University of Kentucky faculty. Before returning to NIH, Nath was a professor of neurology and neuroscience and held several leadership positions at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He became NINDS’s intramural clinical director in 2011.
“The intramural program at NIH has a strong research program in neurovirology. Last year we launched a multidisciplinary research program on the neuroscience of HIV infection that spans across several ICs,” said Nath. Other NIH intramural neuroinfectious disease programs exist on such disorders as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, HTLV-I infection, human herpes virus-6 encephalitis and other herpes viruses infecting the brain, lymphochoriomeningitis virus, cysticercosis, cryptococcal meningitis and undiagnosed encephalitis.— Shannon E. Garnett