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Neuro-Infectious Diseases Group

Our Faculty


 

Kenneth L. Tyler, MD
Dr. Tyler is the Reuler-Lewin Family Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology as well as a Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases) and Immunology-Microbiology. He serves as the co-Director of the Center for Neuroscience (CNS). He trained in Internal Medicine at the Brigham and Neurology at MGH, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship with the late Dr. Bernard Fields in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School. His laboratory uses a variety of neurotropic viruses including reoviruses, Enterovirus D-68, and Flaviviruses (West Nile, Japanese encephalitis and Zika) to study the pathogenesis of viral CNS infections. A particular interest has been in understanding the nature of specific cellular pathways (signaling, gene expression, apoptosis) that are activated during neurotropic viral infections and that lead to neuronal injury and death. The laboratory uses primary cell cultures, ex vivo slice cultures of brain and spinal cord, and murine models to study virus-cell interactions. Recent studies have involved mapping transcription factor regulated gene expression pathways in brains of virally infected animals, defining virus-induced apoptotic signaling pathways, and examining the role of neuroinflammation (chemokine and cytokine expression, microglial and astrocyte activation) in neuronal death and CNS tissue injury. Dr. Tyler has been extensively involved in clinical studies related to PML and JC virus infection, WNV neuroinvasive disease, acute flaccid myelitis associated with Enterovirus D-68 infection, and in the studies of the use of CSF PCR and NextGen sequencing techniques in the diagnosis of CNS viral infections.

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J. David Beckham, MD
Dr. Beckham is clinically trained in infectious diseases and has a specific interest in virology and neurological infections. Dr. Beckham’s laboratory studies the mechanisms of viral pathogenesis using several model systems. The laboratory mainly uses flaviviruses such as West Nile virus to complete laboratory-based projects. Current projects in the laboratory include work to define the role of natively expressed alpha-synuclein. Dr. Beckham’s laboratory discovered that neuronal expression of alpha-synuclein inhibits viral infections in the central nervous system. The laboratory is currently working to understand the mechanism of inhibition and the role of other synucleins in host-virus interactions. Another project in Dr. Beckham’s laboratory studies how positive-stranded RNA viruses like West Nile virus manipulate host translation events to support viral gene expression and viral growth. In a third project, Dr. Beckham’s laboratory is investigating the pathogenesis of Zika virus in neurons. Taken together, the studies in the laboratory represent a comprehensive investigation of pathogenesis questions in the field of flavivirus research.

 

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Kevin Messacar, MD
Dr. Messacar is a pediatric infectious disease physician and researcher who focuses on improving and implementing new diagnostic tests for central nervous system infections. He is currently studying the implementation and impact of rapid multiplex PCR panels and next-generation sequencing platforms for infectious pathogens in cerebrospinal fluid. Since 2014, Dr. Messacar has been involved in investigations of the polio-like illness, acute flaccid myelitis, including its relationship to the emerging respiratory virus, enterovirus D68. Clinically, he provides specialty consultation for children with meningitis, encephalitis, and myelitis at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Kevin Messacar, MD

 

Maria A. Nagel, MD
Dr. Nagel specializes in neurological complications of varicella zoster virus (VZV) and herpes simplex virus, including postherpetic neuralgia, stroke, giant cell arteritis and burning mouth syndrome. She received her clinical neurology training at the University of Colorado and her basic research training at the University of Chicago (tumor immunology, Dr. Hans Schreiber), University of Illinois (mRNA regulation, Dr. David Shapiro) and University of Colorado (VZV pathogenesis, Dr. Don Gilden). Her laboratory studies the mechanisms by which VZV infects intracranial and extracranial arteries to produce stroke, giant cell arteritis and granulomatous aortitis using human biopsy samples, primary human vascular cells and a unique human artery explant model. Of particular interest is how cytokines, matrix metalloproteinases, reactive oxygen species and programmed death ligand-1 contribute to persistent vascular inflammation and damage to the artery. Her lab also focuses on novel antiviral therapies that target purinergic receptors and metabolic components necessary for virus replication, as well as on antiviral lipid nanoparticle therapy to inhibit hematogenous spread of virus and dissemination to multiple organs.

 

Daniel M. Pastula, MD, MHS
Dr. Pastula is a neurologist, CDC-trained medical epidemiologist (EIS ‘13), and veteran of the U.S. Public Health Service with interests in neuro-public health and neuroepidemiology, neuro-infectious diseases, vector-borne and arboviral diseases, cluster and outbreak investigations, global health, and education. He frequently collaborates with public health institutions such as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Clinically, as a neurohospitalist, he primarily sees hospitalized inpatients for a variety of neurologic disorders. He currently serves as the program director for the neuro-infectious diseases fellowship.

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Teri Schreiner, MD, MPH
Dr. Schreiner is an Associate Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics. She comes to her interest in Neuroimmunology and Neuroinfectious disease by a circuitous route. She received a BA in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania, a Masters of Public Health from Yale University and several years of working in healthcare consulting before going to medical school at the University of Rochester. She has been in Colorado, the University of Colorado and Children's Hospital Colorado, for 11 years. She was very closely involved in the acute flaccid myelitis cluster of cases that presented in the context of an Enterovirus D68 outbreak in 2014. Recent efforts have included characterizing the 12 month outcomes of the children affected with AFM in 2014. She has lectured nationally on this topic and served as an international resource for providers with similar patients.

Teri Schreiner, MD, MPH

 

Amanda L. Piquet, MD
Dr. Piquet is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and her clinical focus includes Neuroimmunology and Neuroinfectious disease. She completed her residency training at the Harvard Medical School’s program at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston. After residency, Dr. Piquet traveled to Salt Lake City for fellowship training in Autoimmune Neurology at the University of Utah. Her research and clinical interests include encephalitis, both autoimmune and infectious etiologies. She has is involved with quality improvement projects focused on the diagnosis and management of patients with acute encephalitis. Dr. Piquet is also involved with the Neuro-infectious disease fellowship, providing the fellow with additional training in the diagnostic work up and management of neuro-inflammatory diseases and autoimmune neurology. This includes patients with antibody-mediated disorders of the nervous system including autoimmune encephalitis, NMO, stiff-person syndrome, demyelinating disease, vasculitis, neurosarcoidosis and CNS complications of rheumatological disease, among others.

Amanda L. Piquet, MD