2012 Audrey Gilden Lectureship
Peter Kennedy
Professor and Chair
University of Glasgow

Dr. Peter Kennedy is the Burton Professor of Neurology and Head of the University Department of Neurology at the Institute of Neurological Sciences in Glasgow, Scotland. Dr. Kennedy received his M.D., Ph.D. and D.Sc. degrees from the University of London. In the fullest sense of the word, Dr. Kennedy is truly an outstanding clinician-scientist and academic leader. He was the first to show that all the major human neural cell types could be unambiguously identified in vitro using cell-type specific antigenic markers. In this context, Dr. Kennedy's studies in the 1980's established methods by which nervous system cells could be distinguished from one another thus providing powerful tools that have been used to increase our understanding of cell-specific response to infection, immune-mediated challenge and other CNS disorders.

In addition, Dr. Kennedy provided the first demonstration of the existence of the human equivalent of the rodent bipotential 0-2A progenitor cell. He has made major discoveries regarding the pathogeneses of visna infection of sheep, settled a longstanding controversy in varicella zoster virus (VZV) latency regarding viral location, and has conducted pioneering studies of VZV gene expression during latency, including microarray analysis of viral gene expression during productive infection and more recently, the pathogenesis of post-herpetic neuralgia. Dr. Kennedy has also studied numerous aspects of human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness). In the critically acclaimed book, The Fatal Sleep, which reflects upon over 30 years of a historical medical quest, Dr. Kennedy describes the effects of the insect vector, the tsetse fly, on the CNS and draws the reader into the struggle to treat victims in remote and often dangerous regions of the world. He also takes the reader on a dramatic journey seen through the eyes of a physician-scientist by describing his experiences with strikingly vivid accounts. Dr. Kennedy conveys a sense of urgency to defeat sleeping sickness as he weaves a true story of battles fought both clinically and economically, as trypanosomiasis impacts greatly on cattle farming, which is the livelihood of the majority of people affected.

He discovered the critical role of early astrocyte activation in generating the inflammatory response, explained the significance of subcurative chemotherapy, and discovered the key function of the neuropeptide Substance P in generating the inflammatory response in trypanosomiasis. His group reported the first use of cranial MRI to visualize bloodbrain barrier breakdown in experimental trypanosomiasis. These efforts have led to the development of a new form of melarsoprol to treat sleeping sickness that should enter clinical trials soon. Based upon a highly reproducible mouse model of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), his group is currently investigating the post-reactive treatment encephalopathy that occurs in about 10% of HAT patients receiving melarsoprol. The goals of this line of research include understanding the potential contributions of pro- and anti-inflammatory components of disease and host response, developing better imaging techniques to assess blood-brain barrier dynamics, and devising improved therapies to treat late stage HAT. Dr. Kennedy has received considerable support over the years from the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council, the MS Society and recently, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is a fellow of both the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Academy of Medical Sciences. Dr. Kennedy has received numerous research awards and was most recently appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for 'services to clinical science', a truly exceptional honor for a UK scientist. He is also a well known past President of the International Society for NeuroVirology, serving from 2004 to 2009. The ISNV is pleased to host Dr. Kennedy for the inaugural Audrey Steinman Gilden Lectureship.