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Funding News - NINDS Names New Clinical Director, Dr. Avindra Nath

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NINDS recently named Dr. Avindra Nath as its new intramural clinical director. Nath is nationally and internationally recognized for his contributions to elucidating HIV pathogenesis in the central nervous system. In addition to becoming clinical director, he will head of the Section of Infections of the Nervous System, NINDS, and develop a center dedicated to translating new therapies for neurological disorders to clinical use.

“We are delighted that Dr. Nath has joined the intramural program. He has an outstanding research program that adds strength to our neurovirology and neuroimmunology programs,” said NINDS Director Dr. Story Landis. “Avi has superb leadership skills as well, which help ensure he will be an outstanding clinical director.”

Nath will oversee the Institute’s intramural clinical research program and the physician-scientists who are working to develop better ways to diagnose, treat, manage, and, ultimately, prevent disorders of the brain and nervous system.

According to NINDS Scientific Director Dr. Alan Koretsky, Nath will develop a focused effort that can help accelerate translational efforts in NINDS in a way that can complement NIH-wide efforts. He also will improve clinical training programs within NINDS, and help ensure that NINDS continues to attract outstanding young clinician-scientists to its intramural research program.

Early in the HIV epidemic, Nath and his colleagues discovered that Tat, a viral protein, could directly stimulate neurons. In subsequent studies he found that Tat also activated glial cells leading to chemokine release that in turn caused macrophage recruitment into the central nervous system. Most recently, Nath discovered that some individuals with HIV—despite an excellent response to retroviral treatment—develop a devastating immune cell-mediated encephalitis called CNS-immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome. He will continue his HIV investigations at NIH.

Nath also has helped to develop several neuroprotective compounds that are in various stages of development and clinical testing. Because of shared cellular and molecular mechanisms these compounds may have potential use in a wide variety of neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory diseases.

Born in Saskatoon, Canada, Nath earned his medical degree from the Christian Medical College in Ludhiana, India. He then completed both a neurology residency and a neuroimmunology fellowship at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. In 1990 he completed a fellowship in neurovirology at NINDS, working in the Section of Molecular Virology and Genetics in the Laboratory of Viral and Molecular Pathogenesis.

After leaving NIH, he joined the faculty of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, where he served as an associate professor in the departments of Medical Microbiology and Internal Medicine. He later joined the University of Kentucky faculty, serving as a professor in the Microbiology and Immunology and Neurology departments.

Before returning to NIH, Nath was a professor of neurology and neuroscience. He held several important leadership positions at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, serving as director of the Division of Neuroimmunology and Neurological Infections (DNNI), and director of the Neurovirology and Neuroimmunology Laboratory (NNL). He also served as the co-director of the Neuro-AIDS Translational Research Center. As director of the DNNI and NNL, he recruited an exceptional cadre of investigators and created the clinical fellowship program in Neuroimmunology and Neurological Infections—the only one of its kind in the country.

Nath has published more than 200 manuscripts, reviews, and book chapters, and served on the editorial board for the Journal of Neurovirology and Current HIV Research. Currently, he chairs the Section of Neuro-infectious Diseases of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and serves as vice president of the International Society of Neurovirology. Nath is an elected member of the American Neurological Association.