Opendra Narayan, D.V.M., Ph.D.
University of Kansas Medical Center

2006 recipient of the
ISNV Pioneer in NeuroVirology Award

The International Society for NeuroVirology periodically recognizes individual achievement in the field of neurovirology through its Pioneer in NeuroVirology Award. In 2006, the ISNV honored Dr. Opendra “Bill” Narayan for his accomplishments and contributions to the field of neurovirology during a career that spanned almost four decades. He received his award at the 7th International Symposium on NeuroVirology. Dr. Narayan was the sixth scientist working in the area of neurovirology to receive this award and was preceded by a growing list of distinguished recipients.

Dr. Narayan received his D.V.M. from the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1963, and his M.S.C. in 1967 and Ph.D. in 1970 both from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. He received postdoctoral training in 1972 at Johns Hopkins University in the laboratory of the First Pioneer in NeuroVirology, Dr. Richard T. Johnson. From 1972 through 1993, he rose through the ranks at Johns Hopkins to Professor and Director of the Division of Comparative Medicine and Retrovirus Biology Laboratories. After 1993, Dr. Narayan served as Chair of the Department of Microbiology, Molecular Genetics, and Immunology at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, USA. He also served as the Marion Merrell Dow Foundation Distinguished Professor and Director of the Marion Merrell Dow Laboratory of Viral Pathogenesis at the University of Kansas Medical Center.
Dr. Narayan had nearly 40 years of experience studying the pathogenesis of viral infections in animals, beginning with the first isolation of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza virus in North America (Ontario, Canada, 1966). Dr. Narayan led a distinguished research career focusing on the molecular pathogenesis of lentiviruses. These include Visna and Caprine Encephalitis-Arthritis virus infections in sheep and goats, SIV and SHIV infections in macaques, and studies on HIV-1-infected tissues. He was continuously funded to pursue these studies for 30 years via R01 and P01 grants from the NIH. These critical studies have provided many of the foundational concepts that are currently being utilized to explore the pathogenesis of the human immunodeficiency virus and its effects on the immune and nervous systems. Recently, Dr. Narayan focused major efforts on the development of a vaccine against HIV-1 using the simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) macaque model of AIDS.

In his role as the director of the MMD Laboratory of Viral Pathogenesis in the School of Medicine, he led a multidisciplinary team of investigators with extensive experience in molecular biology, molecular virology, clinical virology, tissue culture operations, immunology, flow-cytometry, and immunohistochemical studies. His research program compared the efficacies of live and DNA-based vaccines aimed at prophylactic and therapeutic immunization of animals against disease. Studies from his laboratory have yielded more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, as well as national and international recognition. In addition to directing operations in the MMD Laboratory and the Department of Microbiology, Molecular Genetics, and Immunology in the School of Medicine, he served as Director of the COBRE program in the medical school. During his distinguished career, he trained countless numbers of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows, and junior faculty who have also gone on to distinguished careers in neurovirology and related disciplines. In addition, Dr. Narayan used his research program for the training and development of over 50 junior faculty during the last 25 years. His training philosophy was to capitalize on the expertise of incoming individuals and to re-focus this expertise on solving existing research problems or adding new dimensions to the existing program. This philosophy provided an extremely rich environment in which to develop basic researchers and clinician scientists.

Dr. Narayan passed away unexpectedly on December 24th, 2007, at the age of 71. He will be missed as a highly productive researcher, as an esteemed colleague, and as a friend to many. Truly, Dr. Narayan was a leader in neurovirology. The ISNV Board of Directors is pleased to recognize his contributions to the field.

Return to the Pioneer in NeuroVirology Award page.