Lifetime Achievement Award Goes to Dr. Mahendra Kumar for Innovative Research in HIV/AIDS
The Society of Neuroimmune Pharmacology (SNIP) has granted its Lifetime Achievement Award to Mahendra Kumar, M.Sc., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, in recognition of the advances he has made in the understanding of HIV and AIDS.
Kumar’s research sheds light on the important role hormones, neurotransmitters and cytokines play in disorders of the immune axis in people with HIV and AIDS.
The award involves a different form of peer review. Researchers cannot apply for the award, and colleagues cannot nominate a co-worker for the recognition. Instead, SNIP employs a committee of internationally known scientists to choose a colleague whose lifetime contribution significantly advanced neuroimmunology.
The “Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to the Advancement of the Mission of the Society (Research on HIV)” award is a great honor, Kumar said, because “it is recognition of my research work by my peers. The Society chose me because they recognized that my work explains to some extent the basis of neuroendocrine abnormalities that occur in HIV infection.”
Kumar and team have made numerous discoveries.
“We were first to show that HIV infection leads to significant disturbances in response to stressors of various types,” he said.
His team was also among the first researchers to demonstrate difference in brain function according to different subtypes of HIV. These neurologic effects differed by strain and geography — between HIV clade C in India and clade B in the United States and other western countries, for example.
The research has attracted outstanding extramural funding from the National Institutes of Health over the years.
SNIP is an association of researchers that aims to promote advances and serve as a reliable source of information on the pharmacology, immunology and neuroscience of the neuroimmune axis. The society encourages the exchange of related information and ideas among researchers at its annual conference. Kumar received his award at the society’s conference in April, held in conjunction with the International Society of NeuroVirology.
“I felt great receiving the award,” said Kumar, who is also chief of the Psychoneuroendocrinology/Psychoneurotransmitters Lab at the Miller School, “and I am thankful to my co-workers and the Miller School of Medicine for giving me the opportunity to establish my lab here in 1986.”