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Vol. LXVI, No. 9
April 25, 2014

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Neurovirologist Gilden To Give NIAID Straus Memorial Lecture

Dr. Don Gilden
Dr. Don Gilden will deliver the sixth annual NIAID Stephen A. Straus Memorial Lecture on Infectious Diseases. Gilden’s lecture, titled “Varicella Zoster Virus and Giant Cell Arteritis,” will be held on Monday, May 5, at 3 p.m. in Lipsett Amphitheater, Bldg. 10.

Gilden is currently the Louise Baum endowed chair and professor of neurology and professor of microbiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where he also served as chair of the department of neurology for more than 24 years. He is best known for his studies on varicella zoster virus (VZV), the cause of chickenpox and shingles.

He was the first to find VZV DNA in normal human ganglia, or brain tissue, and the first to verify that zoster sine herpete, or shingles pain without rash, is a distinct disease caused by VZV. Gilden also discovered that VZV “encephalitis” is actually a viral infection of cerebral arteries rather than brain tissue. His continuing research integrates cutting-edge molecular technology and clinical medicine, which has led to significant advances in basic scientific knowledge and in treatment of neurological diseases caused by viruses.

Gilden’s lecture will focus on the role of VZV in the development of giant cell arteritis (GCA), a common form of vasculitis that is diagnosed using biopsies of the temporal artery (a major artery of the head) to identify inflamed immune cells. In multiple patients with features of GCA but whose biopsies were negative, Gilden has found abundant VZV antigens and VZV DNA, revealing the importance of the virus in GCA.

Gilden earned his B.A. from Dartmouth College and his M.D. from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He completed a neurology residency at the University of Chicago Hospitals and a postdoctoral fellowship in neurovirology at Johns Hopkins University. He is the recipient of numerous awards and was elected to the Association of American Physicians, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars.

The lecture series honors Straus, who served NIAID for 30 years as a senior investigator and lab chief. He died in 2007.

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