Episode 07: Virology and Brain Infections in India – on World Encephalitis Day

Interview with Dr. V. Ravi

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Hi Everyone,

Welcome to another episode of IDRFSpeaks- Thanks for joining us on this journey as we discover the ecosystem around infectious disease research, practice and policy in India. February 22, is World Encephalitis Day – a day for us to raise awareness about brain infections. Brain infections, which include acute encephalitis syndrome (a condition characterized by an inflammation of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of the covering of the brain) and meningoencephalitis (sharing characteristics of both encephalitis and meningitis) – are a problem particularly in low resource settings – due to the high fatality rate, the disproportionate effect on children, the seasonal outbreaks and the potential for long lasting effects on the survivors (including cognitive and behavioral difficulties).

Our guest today is Dr. V Ravi or “Virus” Ravi as he is known was a Professor and Head of the Department of Neurovirology at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) – and currently heads research and development at TATA MD. He is part of multiple scientific advisory committees include the Technical Advisory Committee for COVID-19 of the Govt of Karnataka. He is an passionate and inspiring virologist, and a mentor – who taught me both the importance of studying infectious diseases in their epidemiological context – when where they occur and who is affected – as well as the ability to keep the affected person in mind as we carry out disconnected laboratory based investigations. I hope you enjoy the conversation.


In this conversation, we talk about Dr. Ravi’s journey into setting up a super speciality molecular diagnostic lab in the country. His experience and learning from outbreaks of Japanese encephalitis virus, H1N1, HIV and SARS-CoV-2. We speak about outbreak response and the need to enhance surveillance for infectious diseases. We talk about the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome surveillance(AES) program that he lead encompassing multiple districts in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam – 3 states in India that have a high AES burden in India. We talk about the outcomes and lessons from this study – particularly the appreciation of scrub typhus as an important infection presenting as AES. It’s detection and treatment. We speak about his move to industry and his plans there.

Dr. Ravi has inspired many people to take up virology and think about infectious diseases in a multi-disciplinary manner. Thanks for listening!

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