UArizona Health Sciences Immunologist Nikolich-Žugich Named Researcher of the Year

Sept. 28, 2021

Janko Nikolich-Žugich, MD, PhD, has received the Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year award from the Arizona Bioindustry Association (AZBio), for his work on aging, immunology, and COVID-19 testing and prevention.

Janko Nikolich-Žugich, MD, PhD, an internationally recognized immunologist and gerontologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson and member of the BIO5 Institute, has received the Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year award from the Arizona Bioindustry Association (AZBio), for his work on aging, immunology, and COVID-19 testing and prevention.

The award is given to a life science researcher in Arizona who has made the most significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge and the understanding of biological processes, as measured by publications or professional acknowledgement of their work in academic or commercial settings.

Dr. Nikolich-Žugich, who continually demonstrates a deep commitment to finding answers to some of the most challenging scientific questions, will be honored by AZBio and Arizona’s life science community during Arizona Bioscience Week

“Through his own longstanding research accomplishments and his ability to collaborate with other researchers and clinicians in various disciplines, Dr. Nikolich-Žugich has made scientific advancements resulting in major impacts on the health and wellness of Arizonans,” said Michael M. I. Abecassis, MD, MBA, dean of the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson.  “What he and his colleagues accomplished in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is remarkable, and for this and many other reasons, Dr. Nikolich-Žugich is highly deserving of this prestigious award.”

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique challenge for researchers including Dr. Nikolich-Žugich, who last year used his expertise in immunology to create a highly accurate COVID-19 antibody test that was quickly deployed throughout Arizona. The test, developed by Dr. Nikolich-Žugich in collaboration with colleagues at UArizona Health Sciences, is helping public health officials better understand the spread of COVID-19, as well as answering important questions about the longevity of immunity provided by antibodies.

In related work, Dr. Nikolich-Žugich is using his expertise in gerontology and immunology to identify the biological mechanisms that make older adults more vulnerable to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. His research may produce valuable insights that could help with the development of vaccines or other means of protecting seniors and other vulnerable populations from COVID-19.

Dr. Nikolich-Žugich joined the College of Medicine – Tucson in 2008 as chair of the college’s Department of Immunobiology and co-director of the University of Arizona Center on Aging. He has published more than 180 papers in peer-reviewed journals and received more than $73 million in grant awards from the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Nikolich-Žugich earned his bachelor’s, doctorate and medical degrees at the University of Belgrade in Serbia.

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When to Watch Celebrating Life & Science:

Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021
4-5 p.m., ABC15 (KNXV-TV Phoenix)
9-10 p.m. CW61 (KASW-TV Phoenix)

Friday, Oct. 8, 2021               
Midnight-1 a.m. ABC15 (KNXV-TV Phoenix) Friday after Nightline

Visit www.AZBio.org/Celebrating-Life-Science-2021 for additional online viewing options.