The need for a Department of Neurovirology was felt by NIMHANS in the early 1980’s since a large number of patients with acute viral encephalitis were being treated at the hospital. Dr. Carleton Gajdusek, Nobel Laureate in Virology who visited NIMHANS in 1982 had suggested that the institute invest in a separate Department of Neurovirology to cater to the diagnostic and research needs of NIMHANS. Accordingly, the Academic Council of NIMHANS approved the creation of the Department of Neurovirology in 1982. The Department of Neurovirology was subsequently started under the able guidance of Dr G. Narayan Reddy, Director, NIMHANS in January 1985 by recruiting a Lecturer, Dr V. Ravi. The Department was however officially declared open on 31st March 1986 by Dr. Baruch Blumberg, a Noble Laureate in Virology.
Dr A. Chandramuki, then Head of Department of Microbiology, officiated as the in-charge Head of the department of Neurovirology until 1996, when Dr V. Ravi took charge as the Head. Presently, the department has the following faculty members; Dr. Ravi, Senior Professor and Head, Dr. Anita Desai, Professor, Dr. Reeta Mani, Additional Professor and Dr. Manjunatha M V, Assistant Professor.
The department of Neurovirology has completed more than 30 years of relentless service to humanity. Since its inception in 1986, it has expanded and grown in all aspects of diagnosis, man power development, teaching and training, and basic and applied research. Over the years, it has contributed significantly to several national programs such as National AIDS control program, National vector borne disease control program, National rabies control program and National influenza surveillance program.
The Department of Neurovirology was the first in NIMHANS to obtain NABL accreditation for HIV and several other diagnostic services in 2010. Every year more than 2000 samples are tested for viral infections of the central nervous system. The Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre for HIV (ICTC), a part of the department offers diagnosis and counselling of HIV patients and CD4 testing. HIV viral load testing and diagnosis of HIV in infants (Early Infant Diagnosis, EID) is carried out under the national program. The department is recognized as one of the twelve National Reference Laboratories (NRL) for HIV under National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), Govt. of India. It is an apex laboratory under NVBDCP for surveillance of JE, Dengue and Chikungunya, a WHO-SEARO Regional Reference Laboratory for Japanese encephalitis and a WHO Collaborating centre for reference and research on Rabies.