Fellowship Program Director: Avindra Nath MD
This is a clinical fellowship in neuroimmunology and neurovirology within the Clinical Neurosciences Program of the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). The focus of neuroimmunological and neurovirological disease research at NINDS is on understanding disease mechanisms and developing new treatments. Particular focus is placed on diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and diseases that may be examples of viral-induced immunopathologic processes such as HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders, HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP), progressive multifocal encephalopathy (PML), lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, and human herpesvirus-6. Research ranges from studies of basic molecular immunology and virology to development of new imaging techniques to clinically applied research. Investigators make a concerted effort to extend findings made at the basic level into the clinic. For example, approaches to modifying pathologic immune (including antiviral) responses in vitro are extended into studies in experimental animal models, and then into phase I or phase II clinical trials in patients in the NIH Clinical Center.
The program consists of several labs ("Sections" and "Units") and a shared clinical team. The clinical team evaluates patients either under natural-history protocols or in investigator-initiated therapeutic trials. Patients and their biologic samples are also evaluated in the individual labs:
- The Section of Infections of the Nervous System studies pathophysiology and conducts clinical studies in patients with HIV infection.
- The Viral Immunology Section focuses on mechanisms of viral-induced pathology both in MS and HAM/TSP.
- The Neuroimmunological Diseases Unit studies the molecular and immunologic mechanism of action of therapies as well as the immunologic mechanisms that underlie the MS disease process.
- The Viral Immunology and Intravital Imaging Unit studies pathogenesis of viral meningitis
- The Laboratory of Molecular Medicine and Neuroscience studies the pathogenesis of PML
- The Translational Neuroradiology Unit works on new imaging methods and their application to evaluation of new treatments and monitoring of disease course.
Fellows will receive comprehensive clinical training in the evaluation and treatment of patients with neuroimmunologic and neuroinfectious diseases. In addition, fellows will choose to work with a mentor in one of the labs. Collaborative projects are highly encouraged. Some fellows come to gain experience in basic science research, whereas others come with a greater interest in clinical research projects. An effort is made to integrate all of the research efforts, which is accomplished primarily through a weekly seminar and journal club. In addition, each lab has its own weekly research meeting.
Fellows interested in conducting clinical research should have completed an approved neurology residency in the United States and be board-eligible.