Spotlight on…. Dmitry Lioznov

Dmitry Lioznov, MD, PhD, Deputy Director for Research, Head of the Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza and the Department of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology at Pavlov State Medical University   As told to URBAN ARCH Admin Core staff, June 2020.

Tell us more about your clinical and research background. What led you to focus your research on HIV, alcohol, and substance use?

I graduated with an MD from the First Pavlov State Medical University in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1994. I then specialized in infectious diseases in my residency and PhD training. During this time, I trained in Botkin Hospital – Russia’s famous infectious diseases hospital. Botkin has departments for treatment of food-borne diseases, viral hepatitis, HIV, acute respiratory infections, CNS infections, and many others. Rotation on these departments provided excellent clinical experience and understanding of the essence of both infectious diseases and the cultural traditions of the oldest hospital.

As a faculty member of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology at Pavlov State Medical University, I am involved in research on different infectious diseases, but mainly specialize in HIV and viral hepatitis. Considering local vulnerable populations, most of our research is among people who inject drugs. This group traditionally has poor access to care and requires more focused and specialized interventions. Our work has transformed over time from estimation incidence, prevalence of comorbid substance use and infectious diseases, and psychosocial characteristics of these comorbid conditions to studying clinical and physiological aspects of HIV and substance use disorders.

How has working with international co-investigators influenced your research?

My first experience of international collaboration was in early 2000. Since that time I have been involved in numerous international research, clinical, and educational projects.

International research is exciting! It provides new experiences and allows one to develop an understanding of different cultures and work styles. Collaboration opens your eyes to new research and training approaches, as well as to different outlooks on life and the world.

What do you enjoy most about the research you are currently working on, and in what direction do you see the future of HV and substance use research heading in Russia and globally?

First – we are helping people, patients, and our colleagues who provide care for people living with HIV and people who inject drugs. We are always looking for ways to improve the current situation.

Second and most enjoyable for me – progress in our research. In the beginning of 2000 we studied epidemiological data on HIV and substance use. Now, we are focusing on pathogenesis and interventions.

How have you been involved in the response to COVID-19 in Russia? How has your work as an infectious disease doctor changed since dealing with COVID-19, and what do you anticipate for the future?

This pandemic emphasized that infectious disease is not something of the past, but is relevant in the present and future. Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza is deeply involved in the study of COVID-19. We are working on developing a vaccine, and our prognosis is that the product will be available between the summer and autumn of 2021. The first complete genome sequence of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 from a Russian patient was sequenced by a scientific group from Smorodintsev Research Institute of Influenza. I am leading the COVID-19 Center within Pavlov State Medical University. The Center operates 350 beds in order to decrease stress on the city’s public health system.

We are waiting for the seasonal rise of acute respiratory infections this autumn, and anticipate co-infection of influenza and COVID-19.

Finally, we are starting to collect data on COVID-19 in HIV-positive patients.

Tell us one thing about yourself that readers might find surprising.

I am a fisherman and like to spend a couple of weeks in the dead places of Russia for such adventure without any civilization – Yakutia, Kamchatka, etc.