Berislav Zlokovic, MD, PhD is the director of the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute and Professor and Chair of the Department of Physiology & Biophysics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and a Professor of Biological Sciences at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Zlokovic has a life-long career in studying the role of cerebral blood vessels in the pathogenesis and treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders and stroke. Using animal models and studying human brain, his laboratory has shown that dysfunction in the blood-brain barrier and brain microcirculation can accumulate before neuronal dysfunction and contribute to the onset and progression of different neurological disorders and symptoms including dementia. His research team has identified the cellular and molecular mechanisms in cerebral blood vessels causing disruption of the blood-brain barrier and neurovascular unit, which leads to neurodegeneration in models of Alzheimer’s disease, pericyte-deficient rodents and stroke. His group has also identified molecular mechanisms at the blood-brain barrier that maintain clearance of Alzheimer’s toxin amyloid-beta from the brain into the circulation, and its influx or re-entry from the circulation into the brain, reflecting an important physiological function of the blood-brain barrier in maintaining brain amyloid-beta homeostasis.
Discoveries of his research team have contributed to the development of clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease (Phase 2 and 3 studies) based on clearance of amyloid-beta and/or blockade of its re-entry into the brain, and stroke based on activated protein C treatment that has currently successfully completed assessment in stroke patients (Phase 2a) as a neuroprotective agent. Zlokovic’s more recent research interests are focused on genes that influence the risk for Alzheimer’s disease, particularly how APOE4, PICALM, and CLU affect the cerebrovascular system. In these studies, he uses different transgenic animal models, human iPSC-derived neuronal and blood-brain barrier models of neurological disorders, and novel neuroimaging approaches assessing neurovascular function in the living human brain.
Zlokovic is recognized internationally as a leader in the fields of Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. Thomson Reuters listed Zlokovic as one of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” in 2002-2012, 2012-2017 for ranking in one percent of the most-cited authors in the field of neurosciences and behavioral sciences. He is the recipient of many awards, including the MetLife Award for Medical Research for “significant contributions to our understanding of Alzheimer’s disease and for bringing us closer to a cure”, the Potamkin Prize from the American Academy of Neurology ” in recognition of outstanding achievements in research on Alzheimer’s and related neurodegenerative diseases”, the Javits Award from the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke “in recognition of distinguished record of substantial contributions in a field of neurological sciences”, and the MERIT Award from the National Institute on Aging “in recognition of sustained contribution to aging and leadership and commitment to the field”. He is a fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a member of The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiative, the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts and The European Academy of Sciences (Academia Europeae) – the Life Sciences Class. In 2016 and 2017, , he was asked by the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, The Nobel Committee to nominate one or more candidates for the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine 2017 and 2018.
Zlokovic is an active entrepreneur and inventor. He co-founded ZZ Biotech, a biotechnology company that is dedicated to developing new treatments for stroke and neurological disorders.