Avindra Nath M.D.
National Institute of Health

2012 recipient of the
ISNV Pioneer in NeuroVirology Award

The International Society for Neurovirology honors Dr. Avindra Nath with the 2012 Pioneer in NeuroVirology Award. Research from Dr. Nath’s group is at the heart of many noteworthy findings regarding molecular mechanisms by which HIV damages cells of the CNS. It is widely accepted that HIV injures neural cells by both direct and indirect mechanisms. This dogma was established in large part by findings from Dr. Nath and colleagues. Early in the HIV epidemic, Dr. Nath and colleagues described a mechanism by which the HIV protein Tat depolarized neurons by activating NMDA receptors. These observations prompted an explosion in the field of HIV protein-mediated neurotoxicity studies and paved the way for the hypothesis that HIV damages cells of the CNS in multiple ways. Furthermore, Dr. Nath’s work on the crosstalk dynamics among glia, neurons and virus pioneered a new direction for investigations of viralhost crosstalk and molecular mimicry. Expanding upon findings regarding the crucial and unique roles that the neuroimmune system plays in the progression of HIV CNS disease, he conducted important clinical studies addressing the increased risks of HIV patients for developing an immune cell-mediated encephalitis called CNS-immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS). A review of the more than 200 publications from Dr. Nath and colleagues clearly demonstrates a career conducting true translational science.

Dr. Nath’s work has lead to the development of several neuroprotective compounds that are in various stages of clinical trials. His significant and most extensive contributions toward unraveling the complicated molecular crosstalk between virus and host are equally matched by findings from his clinical studies that have shaped current trends in best practices for the care of HIV patients and patients suffering from other CNS diseases. Dr. Nath began his medical career in 1982 after receiving an M.D. degree from the Christian Medical College in Ludhiana, India. He then completed neurology residency and a neuroimmunology fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. In 1988, he was a Visiting Associate in the Section of Molecular Virology and Genetics, Laboratory of Viral and Molecular Pathogenesis at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). In 1990, Dr. Nath joined the faculty at the University of Manitoba, Departments of Internal Medicine and Medical Microbiology, where he remained until he was recruited by the Department of Neurology at the University of Kentucky in 1997. Dr. Nath then joined the Johns Hopkins University in 2002, where he served as Director of both the Division of Neuroimmunology and Neurological Infections and the Neurovirology and Neuroimmunology Laboratory. He also served as Co-Director of the Neuro-AIDS Translational Research Center. Recently, Dr. Nath joined the NINDS in Bethesda, Maryland as the Clinical Director of the intramural program where he plans to build the clinical program through recruitment of new faculty and the development of a Translational Neuroscience Center. His commitment to education and to promoting promising young researchers is evident by the scores of undergraduates, graduate and medical students, residents, and junior faculty who were trained under his guidance. Dr. Nath is a founding member of ISNV and has been an active part of the society since 1988. He is currently the Vice President of ISNV, and continues to be a driving force behind the growth and success of ISNV.