ALS Crowd Radio S2:E6 Dr. Avindra Nath, MD: An Activated Virus Causing ALS?

Dr. Avindra Nath, MD
National Institutes of Health, Clinical Director of National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Interview Date: May 17, 2016

Dr. Nath is an expert in viruses and retroviruses.  He speaks about studying human endogenous retrovirus-K (HERV-K) in the context of ALS, and why it could be important.  HERV-K is normally dormant, but Dr. Nath’s study found that in ALS patient brains it has been activated at fairly high levels. HERV-K creates proteins that are toxic to neurons, and points to a possible cause for sporadic ALS.  Dr. Nath believes that antiviral drugs could be used to inhibit HERV-K, and possibly alter the course of ALS.  More research and testing is underway, along with an intense search for an ALS biomarker to use in human clinical trials to prove effectiveness of these treatments. Many antiviral drugs are already FDA approved and commonly prescribed for use in HIV treatment.

ALS Crowd Radio Show with Dr. Nath:

Full Transcript: (available one week after the show)

Dr. Avi Nath joined NIH as the Clinical Director of NINDS in February 2011. Prior to this, he was the Director of the Division of Neuroimmunology and Neurological Infections at Johns Hopkins University for 9 years. His current responsibilities are to oversee and build the clinical research program at NINDS. He is also the Director of the Translational Neuroscience Center. The office has a clinical trials unit that provides assistance in all stages of protocol development and monitoring. It also oversees a unique training program for clinical fellows and residents in Neurology and Neurosurgery. The office oversees a variety of specialized clinics and provides services for investigation and consultation for patients with neurological disorders.

He graduated from Christian Medical College in Ludhiana, India, in 1981, completed a residency in Neurology in 1986 and a fellowship in Neuroimmunology from University of Texas in Houston in 1988. He was a clinical fellow in Neurovirology at NINDS from 1988-90. He held faculty positions at University of Manitoba (1990-97), University of Kentucky (1997-2002) and at Johns Hopkins University (2002-11).

His research has focused on the neuropathogenesis, neurological manifestations and treatment of HIV infection, Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy and Multiple Sclerosis. He has published over 300 articles and reviews. He has served on the editorial board of several journals and is currently is the Associate Editor of the Journal of Neurovirology and has edited a book on Clinical Neurovirology.

He is the past Chair of the Section of Neuroinfectious Diseases of the American Academy of Neurology and the current President of the International Society of Neurovirology.

ALS Crowd Radio S2:E5 Barbara Newhouse & Dr. Lucie Bruijn: ALS Advocacy

Barbara Newhouse, President and CEO
Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D.
ALS Association
Interview Date: May 9, 2016

S2:E5 ALSA President and CEO Barbara Newhouse and Chief Scientist Dr. Lucie Bruijn spoke live from Washington DC at the National ALS Advocacy Day and Public Policy Conference.  They shared the advocacy work on Capitol Hill that the National ALS Association and medical updates that are happening.

Full Transcript will be available in one week from date of show.   

Barbara Newhouse has over 35 years of success in leading strategic initiatives resulting in operation growth and market strength. Her specialties are aligning the needs of a varied group of constituents with the overall mission and working with the grassroots chapter and volunteer network while maintaining a strategic business operations focus.

Prior to the ALS Association, her background included executive roles with the American Cancer Society, the Alzheimer Association, the Autism Society of America, and the Arthritis Foundation.

Barb holds a Bachelor degree in Social Work and a Master’s degree in Health Care Administration. She received a Certificate with the Leadership Institute of Aging in 1994 and has attended various continuing education courses with the Kellogg School of Non-Profit. Barb has recently completed a Certificate in Leadership program through the University of Notre Dame on leading transformational organizations.

Throughout her career, she has served on numerous non-profit Boards of directors including chairing both a community mental health center as well as the Governor’s Conference on Alzheimer’s disease for the state of Iowa.

Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D. joined The ALS Association in January 2001 and is currently the Chief Scientist.  Prior to that Dr. Bruijn led a team at Bristol Myers Squibb developing in vitro and in vivo model systems for neurodegenerative disease. Her team worked with experts in academia to establish stem cell studies at Bristol Myers Squibb.

Dr. Bruijn received her Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy at Rhodes University, South Africa.  She received a Master’s degree in Neuroscience and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, at the University of London, United Kingdom. She received her MBA at Imperial College, London, United Kingdom. She joined Dr. Don Cleveland’s laboratory in 1994 where she developed and characterized a mouse model of ALS (mice expressing the familial-linked SOD1 mutation).  Using this model her studies focused on disease mechanisms.  In addition, in collaboration with Dr. Robert Brown she looked for neurofilament mutations in familial and sporadic ALS patients.

At The ALS Association, Dr. Bruijn leads a global ALS research effort, called Translational Research to AdvanceTherapies for ALS (or TREAT ALS™) with the goal to move treatment options forward.  It is her strong belief that only through collaboration among a wide range of disciplines will we be successful in changing the course of ALS and finding a cure.