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In Short: 13th Symposium in San Diego

Highlights of the 13th International Symposium on NeuroVirology and 2015 Conference on HIV in the Nervous System

By Avindra Nath and Igor Koralnik

The 13th meeting of the International Society of NeuroVirology and the 2015 Conference on HIV in the Nervous System in San Diego by all measures were resounding successes. In contrast to the 7th ISNV meeting in 2006, which was held in the midst of southern California forest fires, there were no adventures this time in San Diego to distract us from the meeting. Attendees took advantage of the beautiful surroundings of the Gaslamp District and the proximity to the coastline in San Diego. Many neurovirologists were seen jogging early in the morning along the Pacific Ocean.

The meeting was preceded by a symposium on “Novel strategies for targeting CNS reservoirs without reactivation,” which was sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The meeting included multiple presentations on strategies to suppress viral replication in macrophages and microglia, and the use of HIV-Tat inhibitors to maintain HIV in a latent state.

Highlights of the San Diego meeting included the Women in Neuroscience lecture given by Susan Morgello, who talked about the generation of two aspects of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders: memory dysfunction, and the non-cognitive epiphenomena of brain injury. The title of her talk was “Cognitive phenotype and HIV: Does neuropsychology illuminate viral mechanism?” The Audrey Steinman Gilden lecture, titled “Neural precursor cells and repair in a model of viral-induced demyelination,” was delivered by Thomas Lane. The Paradigm Builder lecture was delivered by Steven Douglas, who presented his findings demonstrating that NK1R antagonists may be effective in both active and chronic HIV infection by reduction of macrophage susceptibility to infection, unique macrophage polarization, enhancement of immune reconstitution, and decreased inflammation. The Neurological Infections lecture was delivered by Diane Griffin on alpha virus encephalomyelitis. She showed that, in resistant strains of mice, infectious virus is cleared by antibodies and T cells, but viral RNA persists. In susceptible strains of mice, Th17 cells cause fatal disease if the inflammatory response is not regulated. The Bill Narayan lecture by Barry Rouse focused on host factors, including miRNA, that regulate the ability of herpes simplex virus to replicate in the brain and the eye. A new lecture series, called the Translational Research in NeuroVirology Lectureship, was added this year. Harris Gelbard, who presented a talk titled “Inhibition of mixed lineage kinases as a disease modifying strategy for HAND,” delivered the inaugural lecture.

This year’s meeting also featured some special sessions and events. In the Emerging Infections session, Teri Schreiner presented information on Enterovirus D68-associated myelitis, while Avi Nath focused on Ebola virus meningoencephalitis. For our trainees in neurovirology, we also held a special mentoring session, which was sponsored jointly by the Women in Neuroscience and Junior Scientists committees. The session used a “speed mentoring” format in which 6-8 mentees met for a few minutes each with a mentor, giving each trainee the opportunity to ask specific questions. The feedback from the trainees and the mentors was outstanding. The meeting also included two workshops. The first was dedicated to human polyomaviruses and included a keynote address by Steve Goldman on JCV infection of myelin-deficient mice remyelinated with human glial cells. The second workshop highlighted current issues in international neuro-AIDS.

The highlight of the Symposium in past years has always been the Pioneer Award and Gala Dinner. This year, the Pioneer in NeuroVirology award was given to Joseph Berger for his contributions to neuro-AIDS and particularly to studies of progressive multifocal encephalopathy. Dr. Berger was introduced by Avi Nath.

This year, 16 trainees in the field of neurovirology were recognized. Eight Young Investigator Awards (which also included travel and lodging) and three Poster Presentation Awards were presented to trainees in the name of each Pioneer in NeuroVirology. In addition, five pre-doctoral trainees were recognized at the Neuro-AIDS NRSA (T32) session for their outstanding research efforts. Young investigators were also well represented in oral and poster presentations throughout the meeting.

This meeting also showed that the ISNV has made major strides in embracing the electronic and social media for dissemination of the Symposium program and as a source of communication with its members. This year, the Society went paperless. The program and other information about the meeting were made available to mobile devices and through the web using an app called Guidebook. If you missed the meeting, you can still get the meeting guide at http://guidebook.com/g/sandeigo2015.

The next meeting will be held in Toronto, Canada, in Fall 2016. We look forward to seeing you there.