Geiger presents at invitation-only workshop organized by National Institute of Mental Health

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Dr. Jonathan Geiger, Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at UND’s School of Medicine & Health Sciences, presented at a by-invitation-only workshop organized by the National Institute of Mental Health. This workshop, titled “ART-Mediated Mental Health Side Effects,” was held on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, Md., on September 12, 2018.

Anti-retroviral therapeutics (ART)-mediated neuropsychiatric events occur in some people living with HIV. These complications include depression, cognitive impairment, sleep disturbance, suicidal ideation, and anxiety. Because of these neuropsychiatric adverse events’ impact on continued ART use and HIV-related health outcomes, it is important to better understand the clinical picture, the underlying biological mechanisms, and to potentially define strategies to predict the adverse events for the best treatment outcomes in people living with HIV.

The goal of the workshop was to review our current understanding of the science of ART-mediated neuropsychiatric adverse events and to identify key gaps in the research agenda to assure that funds are targeted appropriately. A very select group of 11 presenters was invited to give talks to and interact with 16 NIH program officials. Presenters included investigators from some of the most prestigious research-intensive universities in the nation, including Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California-San Diego. Also presenting was the Chair of the Global Medical Directors of ViiV Healthcare, the division of GlaxoSmithKline that develops and markets their anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs). Dr. Geiger’s presentation was titled “Understanding ART Actions and Reactions Requires a Better Understanding of Organelle Biology and Inter-Organellar Signaling.”

Worldwide, about 35 million people are living with HIV-1. About one-half of these individuals are being treated with ARVs. “Because HIV-1 positive people taking ARVs are today living almost full life spans, it is becoming increasingly important to better understand co-morbidities, including neuropsychiatric side effects, substance abuse issues, and age-related disorders,” Geiger explained.