Kenneth L. Tyler, M.D.
University of Colorado School of Medicine

2023 recipient of the
ISNV Pioneer in NeuroVirology Award

Dr. Tyler has had an illustrious career. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard University and received his MD from Johns Hopkins University. He completed a residency in Neurology from Mass General Hospital.
He began is career in Neurovirology as a research fellow in 1983 in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and then rose through the ranks to become an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. During this period his research was supported by several awards,including a Physican Scientist award from NIAID and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow award. In 1991, he was recruited to The University of Colorado as an Associate Professor. He became a full Professor in 1995 and Chair of Neurology in 2009; positions that he holds to this day.
His research contributions have been recognized by several professional organizations. He was elected to the America Society for Clinical Investigation in 1997. He received the S. Weir Mitchell and Lawrence McHenry Jr awards from the American Academy of Neurology and has given numerous named lectureships. In 2007, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and as a member of the Association of American Physicians.(Election to the AAP is an honor extended to physicians with outstanding credentials in basic or translational biomedical research and is limited to 70 persons per year.) In 2012, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology (The mission of the Academy is to recognize scientists for outstanding contributions to microbiology and provide microbiological expertise in the service of science and the public).
Dr. Tyler was one of the Founding members of the ISNV and has served the Society in several different roles. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors.
He has held several key leadership roles related to Neurovirology. In the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), he has served as the topic chair for Infections/AIDS/Prions and as the Councilor of the Neuro-infectious Disease Section. Currently, he is a member of the Neuroinfectious Disease expert advisory panel and the Neuro-infectious Disease topic working group of the AAN. He has previously also served on the Board of Directors of the AAN and the American Neurological Association. He is an elected Fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He is currently a member of the Scientific Panel on Infectious Diseases of the European Academy of Neurology. He has served on numerous NIH study sections on CNS infections. He has served on the editorial board of over 20 different journals. This includes Journal of Infectious Disease, Journal of Virology, PLoS Pathogens, Microbial Pathogenesis and Journal of Neurovirology. He is currently the editor-in-chief of the Annals of Neurology. He is widely regarded as a leader in the field of neurovirology and is frequently invited as a seminar speaker or to teach related courses both nationally and internationally.
Throughout his career, he has received independent grant funding from NIH and the VA on topics related to Neurovirology. His research contributions are unparalled which includes major advancements in several CNS infections. This includes ~ >215 peer-reviewed publications and >375 total publications. As a Physician Scientist his research has been truly translational. He has the unique ability to recognize and characterize new and novel clinical syndromes and then develop diagnositics and experimental systems to study their pathophysiology. For example, he has made major contributions to use PCR diagnosis for herpes simplex virus infections in the CNS. This has now become the gold standard for the disgnosis of HSV encephalitis prior to which brain biopsy was necessary. He was the first to report Tysabri-associated PML which was published in NEJM. This was a critical milestone that alerted physicians about the possibility of a fatal complication of the drug. FDA held the drug and then approved it with a black box warming. Timely publication of the case probably saved a lot of lives since many patients were either never started on the drug or they were taken off it. He is credited for the clinical characterization of West Nile Virus neuroinvasive disease and of EVD68 & acute flaccid myelitis both of which had emerged in Colorado. This illustrates his vigilance, strong clinical acumen and the ability to recognize emerging infections and then share that knowledge in a timely manner. The CDC now monitors all cases of acute flaccid myelitis around the country and Dr. Tyler is a member of the advisory committee to the CDC for this illness. It is no surprise that he has been invited to write key reviews that include neuroinfectious disease chapters in Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine (encephalitis, meningitis, brain abscess), in Mandell, Douglas, & Bennett Principles & Practice of Infectious Diseases (encephalitis, prion diseases), in NEJM on acute viral encephalitis, and in Annals Neurology on COVID19, West Nile virus and MPox among others.
Dr. Tyler has also excelled as a mentor and educator. As the founding head of one of the first dedicated Neuroinfectious Disease Fellowships in the nation (inaugurated in 2015) he has already trained 6 Fellows (with two more currently in training), with all of the fellowship graduates holding academic appointments. As a laboratory mentor he has graduated 14 PhD students in Immunology, Microbiology and Neuroscience, and trained 13 postdoctoral fellows. The overwhelming majority of his doctoral and postdoctoral trainees have remained in academics with two of his trainees now serving as Infectious Disease Division Chiefs at leading Academic Medical Centers.
Dr. Tyler began his career in virology studying the pathophysiology of reovirus. He was the first to develop an animal model with reovirus encephalitis. He undertook extensive studies to identify molecular and genetic determinants of viral neurovirulence. This resulted in a series of manuscripts and introduced new concepts in viral determinants of neurotropism and spread within the brain (Tyler et al, Science 1986). He also defined how antibodies inhibit various stages of the infection in the brain (Tyler et al., J Expt Med 1989). He has used this expertise to develop experimental models of West Nile virus encephalitis and Enterovirus, EV-D98, related myelitis as a cause of acute flaccid myelitis in children. He has defined the mechanisms and pathways of virus-induced neuronal cell death including apoptosis, role of microglia in CNS disease. He has also used these model systems to identify therapeutic targets and to test potential therapeutic agents. In particular his observations have shown the use of IVig for teatement of these infections id only useful if given prior to establishing the infection. These findings guide clinical care today preventing unnecessary treatments. He has also made significant contributions to the study of prion diseases, herpes encephalitis and progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy