Zlokovic named chair of Keck School Dept. of Physiology and Biophysics

Berislav Zlokovic (Photo courtesy of USC)
Berislav Zlokovic (Photo courtesy of USC)

Berislav V. Zlokovic, an internationally recognized leader in the research of Alzheimer’s disease and stroke from the University of Rochester Medical Center, has been appointed to the position of professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics in the Keck School of Medicine, effective Dec. 15. Zlokovic has also been named the director of the new Center for Neurodegeneration and Regeneration at the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute.

“Dr. Zlokovic returns to the Keck School after spending the last 11 years at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York,” said Carmen A. Puliafito, dean of the Keck School of Medicine. “I know that, under his guidance, both the Department of Physiology and Biophysics and the Center for Neurodegeneration and Regeneration will continue to make great strides in the research and understanding of systems and molecular biology.”

Zlokovic comes to USC from the University of Rochester Medical Center, where he is a professor of neurosurgery and neurology and director of the Center for Neurodegenerative and Brain Vascular Disorders. He is also director of the Interdisciplinary Program in Dementia Research and Dean’s Professor.

“My role will be to enhance an already very strong neuroscience base and try to make USC the number one place in the neurosciences in the country and the world,” said Zlokovic. “It’s a big goal, but I think, with what’s going on right now, it’s actually moving in that direction. I think that could be my greatest contribution.”

His research accomplishments include contributions to the understanding of the pathogenesis of disorders of the aging brain (as foundations for development of new therapies); discovery of mechanisms in cerebral blood vessels mediating brain dysfunction in Alzheimer disease; discovery of new therapies for Alzheimer disease based on amyloid-beta clearance; and discovery of the protein C pathway in the brain that has therapeutic implications for stroke and neurological disorders.

He has received numerous awards for his research on Alzheimer disease and stroke, including the Potamkin Prize from the American Academy of Neurology, the Javits Award from the National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and a MERIT Award from the National institute on Aging.

Webster H. Pilcher, Frank P. Smith Professor and Chair, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Rochester Medical Center, said the University of Rochester Medical Center will feel the loss of a scientist of Zlokovic’s caliber.

“Dr. Zlokovic’s passion for scientific discovery and his earnest hope that patients will somedaybenefit from this work has inspired many here in Rochester and around the world,” said Pilcher. “His intellectual leadership, his passion for transformational discovery, his indefatigable persona and of course his operatic talents will be sorely missed in Rochester. Rochester’s loss will be USC’s gain.”

Zlokovic is a prolific author, with more than 250 published articles in journals such as Nature Medicine, Nature Cell Biology, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, and Science.

Prior to his time at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Zlokovic spent 11 years at the Keck School of Medicine, the last eight as professor of neurosurgery, physiology and biophysics.

“I have great memories of my time at USC,” said Zlokovic. “It was a very interesting place to be when I first started my career in the U.S., and right now, the momentum that is building up—with the new president, new leadership, both on the University Park Campus and here at the medical school—is in my opinion, very unique. It’s a most dynamic environment.”
Zlokovic received his bachelor’s degree from Belgrade College of Sciences in what is now Serbia. For his medical degree and doctorate, he attended the University of Belgrade, where he also completed his residency in clinical physiology (neurology and intensive care). He completed fellowships in transport biology at Queen Elizabeth College in the United Kingdom, as well as in neurobiology and blood-brain barrier transport at King’s College London, and in neurobiology and transport physiology at St. Thomas’ Hospital London.

Zlokovic will be joined in Los Angeles by his wife, Zora Mihailovich, a renowned concert pianist. Their daughter, Anna, is a sophomore at USC.