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NeuroHIV Therapeutics Program


This program supports the development of preventive and targeted adjunctive therapies for central nervous system (CNS) complications of HIV-1 infection. Modern anti-retroviral therapy (ART) reverses the severity of HIV-1 associated CNS dysfunction observed in people living with HIV-1. However, mild to moderate forms of CNS dysfunction associated with HIV-1 persists and leads to cognitive impairment, functional disabilities, mental health disorders, chronic inflammation, and immune dysfunction. Despite management of HIV outcomes with ART regimens, HIV-1 associated CNS dysfunction continues to persist, and long-term use of ART can induce neurotoxicity. This program encourages discovery research to identify new molecular targets for drug discovery, preclinical proof-of-concept studies, and clinical research to enable a full, stable reversal of HIV-1 associated CNS dysfunction in people living with HIV. 

Areas of Emphasis

  • Identify strategies to prevent HIV-1 associated CNS dysfunction.
  • Develop targeted adjunctive therapies in addition to modern ART regimens that have the potential to ameliorate HIV-1 associated CNS dysfunction.
  • Conduct early stage drug discovery and preclinical research to identify potential pathways and biological targets from new research findings with the potential to improve the clinical outcomes for HIV-1 associated CNS dysfunction in the context of chronic HIV-1 infection treated with ART.
  • Develop models of ART pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in the CNS in the context of treated chronic HIV-1 infection to understand the impact of ART CNS efficacy and the potential for accumulative ART toxicities.
  • Identify multi-dimensional assessment paradigms for neurological co-morbidities in the context of chronic HIV-1 infection on ART that are appropriate for the clinical setting.


Vasudev R. Rao, M.B.B.S., M.S.
5601 Fishers Ln, Room 9G27
Rockville, MD 20852