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Senior Investigator

Avindra Nath, M.D.

Section of Infections of the Nervous System


Building 10-CRC Room 7C103
10 Center Drive
Bethesda MD 20814
Office: 301-496-1561
Lab: 301-496-1561
Fax: 301-496-1561
natha@mail.nih.gov

Dr. Nath received his MD degree from Christian Medical College in India in 1981 and completed a residency in Neurology from University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, followed by a fellowship in Multiple Sclerosis and Neurovirology at the same institution and then a fellowship in Neuro-AIDS at NINDS. He held faculty positions at the University of Manitoba (1990-97) and the University of Kentucky (1997-02). In 2002, he joined Johns Hopkins University as Professor of Neurology and Director of the Division of Neuroimmunology and Neurological Infections. He joined NIH in 2011 as the Clinical Director of NINDS, the Director of the Translational Neuroscience Center and Chief of the Section of Infections of the Nervous System. His research focuses on understanding the pathophysiology of retroviral infections of the nervous system and the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for these diseases.



Neuropathogenesis of HIV infection : HIV reservoirs get established in the brain early during infection and current antiretroviral therapy does not impact the size of the reservoir. Our laboratory is focused on characterizing the virus in the brain by studying the mechanisms by which the virus enters glial cells and persists for extended periods of time. We have shown that the HIV-Tat protein is produced in the brain despite adequate antiretroviral therapy, hence we are trying understand its role in HIV pathogenesis and in developing means to block its effects. This is being accomplished by studying biological samples from a well characterized cohort of HIV-infected individuals and novel in vitro techniques for viral isolation and assays for viral protein detection and monitoring immune function in spinal fluid.

Role of endogenous retroviruses in neurological diseases :  Retroviral sequences remain dormant in the human genome and occupy nearly 7-8% of the genomic sequence. We have shown that one of these viruses termed HERV-K (HML-2) is activated in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and transgenic animals that express the envelope protein of HERV-K develop ALS like symptoms. Hence, we are now using a wide variety of in vitro, and in vivo studies to determine the mechanism by which its expression is regulated and causes neurotoxicity to motor neurons. We are also developing new antiviral compounds and molecular techniques for blocking HERV-K.

Undiagnosed Neuroimmune and neuroinfectious diseases : Undiagnosed neuroinflammatory diseases carry a huge burden with devastating consequences. In collaboration with other researchers in NINDS and other institutes, we are investigating these patients and developing new diagnostic methods and modes of treatment for these diseases. An example of which is our observation that patients with Nodding syndrome have autoantibodies to a newly discovered protein in the brain, liemodin-1, caused by a molecular mimicry with a protein in a parasite, onchocerca.

Staff Image
  • Rachel Abrams, Ph.D.
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    301-496-7621

  • Lauren Bowen Reoma, M.D.
    Clinical Fellow
    301-435-7531

  • Deborah Choi, B.S.
    Post baccalaureate Fellow
    301-451-3821

  • Brianna Disanza, B.S.
    Post baccalaureate Fellow
    301-827-9273

  • Tara Doucet-O'Hare, Ph.D.
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    301-451-5001

  • Marta Garcia Montojo, Ph.D.
    Research Fellow
    301-402-8316

  • Lisa Henderson, Ph.D.
    Postdoctoral Fellow
    301-402-3836

  • Elizabeth Horne, B.S.
    Post baccalaureate Fellow
    301-480-8215

  • Barbara Jaruga, Ph.D.
    Laboratory Manager
    301-496-7621

  • Peter Jensen, B.S.
    Biologist
    301-496-2899

  • Brittany Jones, M.Sc
    Post baccalaureate Fellow
    301-496-7621

  • Nahar Kymani
    Patient Care Coordinator
    301-435-1647

  • Myounghwa Lee, Ph.D.
    Research Fellow
    301-451-3821

  • Guanhan Li, Ph.D.
    Research Fellow
    301-402-0840

  • Wenxue Li, Ph.D.
    Staff Scientist
    301-480-8208

  • Kevon Sampson, M.Sc
    Biologist
    301-827-4077

  • Ulisses Santamaria, B.A.
    Post baccalaureate Fellow
    301-496-7621

  • Bryan Smith, M.D.
    Staff Clinician
    301-451-4585

  • Jamie Solis, B.S.
    Predoctoral Fellow
    301-496-7621

  • Amanda Wiebold, RN, BSN, CCRP
    Research Nurse
    301-594-5194

  • 1) Tory P. Johnson, Richa Tyagi, Paul R. Lee, Myoung-Hwa Lee, Kory R. Johnson, Jeffrey Kowalak, Abdel Elkahloun, Marie Medynets, Alina Hategan, Joseph Kubofcik, James Sejvar, Jeffrey Ratto, Sudhir Bunga, Issa Makumbi, Jane R. Aceng, Thomas B. Nutman, Scott F. Dowell and Avindra Nath (2017)
  • Nodding syndrome may be an autoimmune reaction to the parasitic worm Onchocerca volvulus
  • Science Translational Medicine 15 Feb 2017, Vol. 9, Issue 377, DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf6953
  • 2) Tyagi R, Li W, Bianchet MA, Nath A (2017)
  • Inhibition of human endogenous retrovirus-K by antiretroviral drugs
  • Retrovirology, Mar 22, 14(1), 10.1186/s12977-017-0347-4
  • 3) Bowen LN, Tyagi R, Li W, Alfahad T, Smith B, Wright M, Singer EJ, Nath A (2016)
  • HIV-associated motor neuron disease: HERV-K activation and response to antiretroviral
  • Therapy Neurology, Oct 25;87(17):, 1756-1762
  • 4) Li GH, Anderson C, Jaeger L, Do T, Major EO, Nath A (2015)
  • Cell-to-cell contact facilitates HIV transmission from lymphocytes to astrocytes via CXCR4
  • AIDS, 24;29(7):755-66
  • 5) Nath A. (2015)
  • Eradication of Human Immunodeficiency Virus from Brain Reservoirs
  • J. Neurovirology, 21, 227-234
  • 6) Li W, Lee MH, Henderson L, Tyagi R, Bachani M, Steiner J, Campanac E, Hoffman DA, von Geldern G, Johnson K, Maric D, Morris HD, Lentz M, Pak K, Mammen A, Ostrow L, Rothstein J, Nath A (2015)
  • Human endogenous retrovirus-K contributes to motor neuron disease
  • Sci Transl Med, Sep 30;7(307), 307ra153
  • 7) Uzasci L, Bianchet MA, Cotter R, Nath A (2014)
  • Identification of nitrated immunoglobulin variable regions in the HIV-Infected human brain: Implications in HIV Infection and Immune response
  • J Proteome Research 2014 Mar 7, 13(3), 1614-23
  • 8) Johnson TP, Patel, K, Johnson K, Maric D, Calabresi, P, Hasbun R, Nath A (2013)
  • Induction of IL-17 and non-classical T-cell activation by HIV-Tat protein
  • Proc Natl Acad Sci, 110(33), 15388-93
  • 9) Wang T, Choi E, Monaco MC, Campanac E, Medynets M, Do T, Rao P, Johnson KR, Elkahloun AG, Von Geldern G, Johnson T, Subramaniam S, Hoffman D, Major E, Nath A. (2013)
  • Derivation of Neural Stem Cells from Human Adult Peripheral CD34+ Cells for an Autologous Model of Neuroinflammation
  • PLoS One, 8(11), e81720
  • 10) Douville R, Liu J, Rothstein J, Nath A (2011)
  • Identification of active loci of a Human Endogenous Retrovirus in neurons of patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Ann Neurol, 69(1), 141(51)
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