Shelli Farhadian, MD, Ph.D.

Shelli Farhadian, MD, Ph.D., Assistant Professor (Infectious Diseases and Neurology), is interested in how systemic infections affect the brain and mind. His research on neuro-infectious diseases covers several areas: the effects of HIV on the aging brain; neurological symptoms of acute and post-acute COVID-19; and central nervous system effects of other infections, including syphilis.

Farhadian came to Yale for an internal medicine residency in 2015 and stayed for an infectious disease fellowship in 2018. She received the Iva Dostanic Physican-Scientist Award from the Department of Internal Medicine in 2019. The award recognizes a intern for exemplary work.

Farhadian began his research as an intern in the research group of Serena Spudich, MD, MA, an internationally recognized specialist in neuro-infectious diseases, interested in the neurological consequences of HIV infection. Like many Yale researchers, she turned her attention to studying COVID-19 in 2020. As a member of the Yale IMPACT team, she built a biorepository of COVID-19 patient samples to better understand acute COVID-19.

“Because I had worked with Serena for so many years, I had figured out pretty quickly how to start a translational research study in human subjects,” she said.

When the initial COVID surge subsided, Farhadian turned his attention to people who reported having symptoms after their initial infection, a situation often referred to as long-COVID.

“With Dr. Spudich, we used many of the tools that we and others had developed to study HIV and the brain to study this new constellation of symptoms,” Farhadian said.

“By studying HIV and other neuro-infectious diseases, we have learned that we can understand something about what is going on in the central nervous system by looking at proteins and cells in the cerebrospinal fluid,” he said. she declared. “We have a study in which people in our community in and around New Haven volunteer to provide blood and cerebrospinal fluid. They go through rigorous neuropsychological testing, numerous symptom questionnaires, mood tests, and through this, we hope to learn something about what might be causing these symptoms.

With HIV, she has particularly focused on adults with a long history of HIV infection. They are “doing very well on their medications, have an undetectable viral load, but some may continue to suffer the neurological consequences of the infection,” she said. “I’m really interested in understanding why it’s even in people on antiretroviral therapy.”

As an HIV doctor, Farhadian treats people living with HIV, many of whom are older men. Her research is informed by the issues she hears about from her patients. “I want to help my patients live long and healthy lives. Many of them want to know what they can do to keep their minds healthy as they age. I hope our research can help us better understand how living with HIV can affect the brain, and eventually help us find new strategies to help our patients.

The Section of Infectious Diseases of the Department of Internal Medicine engages in a wide range of patient care, research, and educational activities. To learn more about their work, visit Infectious diseases.


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