Battling the Viral Hydra – Brennan Guest Editor of Seminars in Nephrology Issue on Kidney Transplantation and Viral Infection

Dan Brennan, MD

Dan Brennan, MD

Dan Brennan, MD, Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Professor of Renal Diseases, likens the fight against viruses in the kidney transplant patient to a mythological battle.  “Just when we think we are beginning to understand one of these viruses, when we have cut off one of the heads of the viral Hydra, then two more viral heads appear seemingly out of nowhere,” he says in the introduction to the September 2016 issue of Seminars in Nephrology, of which he is guest editor.

Viral infections are capable of causing significant problems in the kidney transplant patient, most likely because of the patient’s immunosuppressed state.   As presented by experts in the field of transplant infection disease, the new issue of Seminars in Nephrology covers the virology, epidemiology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment of some of the more common viruses encountered in these patients.  The issue contains up-to-date information on how viruses affect kidney transplant patients and how they can be treated.  “I am really pleased with how this issue of Seminars in Nephrology turned out,” says Brennan.

Dr. Brennan’s interest in viruses developed early in his life.  “My mother was an immunologist and my 8th grade science project was Transmission of Murine Leukemia with a Cell Free Extract.  My dad developed a demyelinating disease something like multiple sclerosis that left permanent brain injury and the working hypothesis was that “Some Sort of Virus” or SSV had caused it,” he explains.  Dan’s mother gave him a couple of books on viruses and told him to read them.  Therefore, while other kids were out playing, Dan began his study of viruses, a subject that is a cornerstone of his research today.  “That is how it all started.”

However, Dr. Brennan knows the Hydra still lives.  “Just when you think you have a comprehensive review, Zika is discovered.  Well, at least I know I’ll never run out of work.”