Janko Nikolich-Zugich, MD, PhD

Department Head, Immunobiology
Professor, Immunobiology
Professor, Medicine
Co-Director, Arizona Center on Aging
Professor, Nutritional Sciences
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Professor, Genetics - GIDP
Professor, Neuroscience - GIDP
Phone Number: 
(520) 626-6065
Professional Bio: 

Dr. Nikolich-Zugich's principal interests are to understand (i) basic mechanisms of immunity and how these mechanisms decline and deteriorate with age to erode protective immunity against infection; and (ii) how they can devise methods to correct or ameliorate immune dysfunction by means of new vaccines, immunomodulatory and metabolic intervention and/or immune rejuvenation. They use infectious disease models, including biodefense and emerging infection (cat. A-C) agents to probe immune defense, homeostasis, T-cell repertoire and memory in the mouse, non-human primate and human models.

Dr. Nikolich-Zugich's other interest is longevity and Healthspan modulation by nutritional and metabolic intervention. The promise of healthspan extension via dietary and pharmacologic intervention raises the possibility of delaying many organ-specific diseases of aging simultaneously with longevity extension. However, that mandates careful investigation into benefits, as well as possible costs, of different treatments to truly achieve healthspan extension. Immune system is particularly sensitive to nutrient deprivation if faced with acute infection, and they are studying whether and how different longevity extension treatments can improve function of the immune system while still providing longevity/healthspan benefit.

Dr. Nikolich-Zugich has trained and mentored 11 doctoral students (all 8 who passed qualifying exams graduated with Ph.D.) and 17 postdoctoral trainees, and am currently training/mentoring 2 doctoral students, 3 postdoctoral trainees and 5 junior faculty/clinical fellows with K awards. Of these, 11 postdoctoral trainees hold faculty or senior industry positions, and all 8 former Ph.D. students have continued postdoctoral education.

Dr. Nikolich-Zugich has been successfully developing and leading complex multiinvestigator and multidisciplinary projects, including P01s, BAA contracts and other collaborative grants for >18 years, and has been continuously funded by the NIH since 1992. He believes that multidisciplinary approach, particularly when combining basic discoveries with potential translation towards human therapies, can yield outstanding dividends in research.

Research Information

Research Program: 
Cancer Biology
Selected Publications: 
  1. Seed, T. M., S. Xiao, N. Manley, J. Nikolich-Zugich, J. Pugh, M. Van den Brink, Y. Hirabayashi, K. Yasutomo, A. Iwama, S. Koyasu, et al., "An interlaboratory comparison of dosimetry for a multi-institutional radiobiological research project: Observations, problems, solutions and lessons learned.", Int J Radiat Biol, vol. 92, issue 2, pp. 59-70, 2016 Feb. PMID: 26857121
  2. Okoye, A. A., M. Rohankhedkar, A. L. Konfe, C. O. Abana, M. D. Reyes, J. A. Clock, D. M. Duell, A. W. Sylwester, P. Sammader, A. W. Legasse, et al., "Effect of IL-7 Therapy on Naive and Memory T Cell Homeostasis in Aged Rhesus Macaques.", J Immunol, vol. 195, issue 9, pp. 4292-305, 2015 Nov 1. PMCID: PMC4617185  PMID: 26416281
  3. Marandu, T. F., J. D. Oduro, L. Borkner, I. Dekhtiarenko, J. L. Uhrlaub, A. Drabig, A. Kröger, J. Nikolich-Zugich, and L. Cičin-Šain, "Immune Protection against Virus Challenge in Aging Mice Is Not Affected by Latent Herpesviral Infections.", J Virol, vol. 89, issue 22, pp. 11715-7, 2015 Nov. PMCID: PMC4645637  PMID: 26339051
  4. Goldberg, E. L., M. J. Romero-Aleshire, K. R. Renkema, M. S. Ventevogel, W. M. Chew, J. L. Uhrlaub, M. J. Smithey, K. H. Limesand, G. D. Sempowski, H. L. Brooks, et al., "Lifespan-extending caloric restriction or mTOR inhibition impair adaptive immunity of old mice by distinct mechanisms.", Aging Cell, vol. 14, issue 1, pp. 130-8, 2015 Feb. PMCID: PMC4326902  PMID: 25424641
  5. Metcalf, T. U., R. A. Cubas, K. Ghneim, M. J. Cartwright, J. Van Grevenynghe, J. M. Richner, D. P. Olagnier, P. A. Wilkinson, M. J. Cameron, B. S. Park, et al., "Global analyses revealed age-related alterations in innate immune responses after stimulation of pathogen recognition receptors.", Aging Cell, vol. 14, issue 3, pp. 421-32, 2015 Jun. PMCID: PMC4406671  PMID: 25728020
  6. Smithey, M. J., J. L. Uhrlaub, G. Li, M. Vukmanovic-Stejic, A. N. Akbar, and J. Nikolich-Zugich, "Lost in translation: mice, men and cutaneous immunity in old age.", Biogerontology, vol. 16, issue 2, pp. 203-8, 2015 Apr. PMID: 25027761
  7. Nikolich-Zugich, J., D. P. Goldman, P. R. Cohen, D. Cortese, L. Fontana, B. K. Kennedy, J. M Mohler, J. S Olshansky, T. Perls, D. Perry, et al., "Preparing for an Aging World: Engaging Biogerontologists, Geriatricians, and the Society.", J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 2015 Sep 29. PMID: 26419976
  8. Sansoni, P., R. Vescovini, F. F. Fagnoni, A. Akbar, R. Arens, Y-L. Chiu, L. Cičin-Šain, J. Dechanet-Merville, E. Derhovanessian, S. Ferrando-Martinez, et al., "New advances in CMV and immunosenescence.", Exp Gerontol, vol. 55, pp. 54-62, 2014 Jul. PMID: 24703889
  9. Renkema, K. R., G. Li, A. Wu, M. J. Smithey, and J. Nikolich-Zugich, "Two separate defects affecting true naive or virtual memory T cell precursors combine to reduce naive T cell responses with aging.", J Immunol, vol. 192, issue 1, pp. 151-9, 2014 Jan 1. PMCID: PMC3925780  PMID: 24293630
  10. Nikolich-Zugich, J., "Aging of the T cell compartment in mice and humans: from no naive expectations to foggy memories.", J Immunol, vol. 193, issue 6, pp. 2622-9, 2014 Sep 15. PMCID: PMC4157314  PMID: 25193936

Academic Information

Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation
Immunology, University of Belgrade School of Medicine, Belgrade, Serbia
Medical School: 
University School of Medicine, Belgrade, Serbia
Master's Degree: 
MS, Belgrade University School of Medicine, Belgrade, Serbia