2009 Neurological Infections Lectureship
James Sejvar
Medicial Officer and Neuroepidemiologist
Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases
National Center for Zoonotic, Vectorborne, and Enteric Diseases

Dr. Sejvar received his undergraduate training from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio in 1991 with Honors in Biology and Summa Cum Laude. He received his undergraduate medical training and M.D. degree from Dartmouth Medical School in 1999. After a one-year internship in Internal Medicine at Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh, he completed his residency training in Neurology at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, at the Mayo Clinic in 2000.

After his residency, Dr. Sejvar completed two years of fellowship training in Applied Epidemiology from the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA. In his current position, which he has held since 2002, he is a Medical Officer and Neuroepidemiologist in the Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases in the National Center for Zoonotic, Vectorborne, and Enteric Diseases in the Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the Department of Health and Human Services.

In his capacity within the CDC, Dr. Sejvar maintains an ongoing, detailed assessment of a large cohort of 57 persons recovering from West Nile virus (WNV) illness, in order to increase understanding of the long-term sequelae of this emerging virus. He has served as clinical team lead in the investigation into a mass poisoning with diethylene glycol in the Republic of Panama, and directed an ongoing longitudinal assessment of the clinical outcomes of exposed individuals, a project that will follow more than 40 persons over 2 years and collect detailed clinical information on health status. This represents the largest systematic, prospective study of persons recovering from WNV disease. The interim results of this study have already provided guidance for clinicians worldwide with respect to the neurological, physical, and cognitive prognosis following WNV disease, including WNV poliomyelitis. Ongoing assessment will continue to allow for better understanding of long-term neurologic sequelae of WNV, which will assist in long-term public health resource planning.

Dr. Sejvar has just completed work on leading an international coalition of experts and published a case definition for encephalitis for use in international surveillance and clinical trials. He is also leading a similar international group to develop a definition for Guillain-Barre syndrome. Dr. Sejvar also serves as a CDC subject matter expert on two Food and Drug Administration expert working groups advising the Food and Drug Administration on issues related to prion diseases and neurologic pharmaceuticals, to ensure the public’s health.

Dr. Sejvar directs and coordinates an ongoing investigation into the etiologies of encephalitis and unexplained acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) of suspected infectious origin in Guatemala, investigations which will ultimately assist the Guatemalan government with prevention and control measures. In addition, he provides expert consultative and technical assistance to U.S. clinicians in the investigation of over 150 cases of suspected Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) and unexplained encephalitis. Overall, he delivers over 30 lectures and educational seminars each year on WNV, viral encephalitis, and CJD in various forums to clinicians, researchers, and the lay public. He has published 43 scientific articles in major international peer-reviewed journals, including 21 first-authored papers. He has also published 3 book chapters on viral encephalitis.

In 2003, he also accepted his first faculty appointment as an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at Emory University School of Medicine and is Board Certified in Neurology. In this capacity, he provides clinical patient care with specific expert consultation on neurologic infectious diseases in the setting of a large tertiary charity hospital. In this capacity, he has also provided oversight and training to residents, interns, and medical students in neurology.

Dr. Sejvar is also a Lieutenant Commander in the Reserve Corp of the US Public Health Service and in this position he is responsible for overseeing investigations, studies, and research on issues related to neurology and public health to improve the diagnosis, investigation, prevention, and control of neurologic diseases of public health importance.

He is also responsible for providing expert consultation and leadership in the fields of neurology and infectious diseases to public health experts, research scientists, clinicians, and the lay public. He also oversees the national surveillance for CJD and other emerging human prion diseases, to ensure prompt recognition of emerging forms of disease such as variant CJD and also shares responsibility for overseeing national surveillance for viral encephalitis and other emerging forms of nervous system infections. He is also responsible for assisting the CDC's Immunization Safety Office and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with investigation and assessment of neurologic adverse events associated with immunizations, to ensure the continued safety of the nation's vaccine supplies.

Overall, Dr. Sejvar has had a highly active and diverse career experience and the International Society for NeuroVirology is pleased to have him deliver the 2009 Neurological Infections Lecture.