Over the past three academic years, Dr Ikonomovic and his research team have made several major advances in studies focusing on the pathobiology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and chronic traumatic brain injury (TBI) and development of novel PET imaging radioligands for neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Ikonomovic continued work on his R01 project to design, produce, and characterize novel radioligands for labeling toxic deposits of amyloid-beta peptide in brain blood vessels, for use in future PET imaging studies in living AD patients. New results were published in Nuclear Medicine and Biology (2020, PMID: 32471773). Dr. Ikonomovic also leads a Project within the NIA-funded PPG “Imaging Pathophysiology in Aging and Neurodegeneration” where his laboratory characterized neuropathological substrates for binding of amyloid and tau PET ligands, by correlating postmortem histological and biochemical measures of amyloid-beta and tau pathology with PET measures recorded in the same subjects antemortem. New progress was reported at the Human Amyloid Imaging Conference 2020. Dr. Ikonomovic is also PI on a grant from GE Healthcare, evaluating [18F]Flutemetamol PET retention in relation to post-mortem region-matched integrated density measures of CN-Flutemetamol fluorescence in amyloid deposits. New results were published in Acta Neuropathologica (2020, PMID: 32772265). Studies also continued on Dr. Ikonomovic’s VA RR&D Merit study developing novel multifunctional rehabilitative therapies to reduce AD pathology after TBI. NIA-funded PPG “Neurobiology of Mild Cognitive Impairment” (collaboration with Dr. Elliott Mufson from the Barrow Neurological Institute) was renewed for the period 2020-25; Dr. Ikonomovic’s Project examines synaptic integrity, altered Aβ metabolism, and cholinergic dysfunction in mild cognitive impairment and early AD. Dr. Ikonomovic was also Investigator in the Avid Radiopharmaceuticals’ A16 trial of 18F-AV-1451 resulting in FAD approval of Tauvid, the first drug to image tau pathology in patients with AD, with a publication in JAMA Neurology (2020, PMID: 32338734).
Dr. Ikonomovic works as Co-Investigator on several collaborative projects, including:
- A project funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation, to design and test novel compounds selective for alpha-synuclein aggregates with fellow University of Pittsburgh faculty Chester Mathis, PhD, and William Klunk, MD, PhD
- A study funded by the Department of Defense to develop an in vivo neuroimaging biomarker panel for chronic traumatic encephalopathy with David O. Okonkwo, MD, PhD, Professor of Neurosurgery at University of Pittsburgh
- A PET, MRI, and plasma biomarker study of adults with Down Syndrome with Benjamin L. Handen, PhD
- An R01 study evaluating alpha-synuclein and synaptic dysfunction after Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) with C. Edward Dixon, PhD
Dr. Ikonomovic trains fellows and medical students in his laboratory. He is Co-Director of the Neuropathology Core of University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) and member of the VA Research Scientific Evaluation Committee at Pittsburgh VA HS. He is Review Editor for the journal Neurotrauma, a standing member of the NIH study section Brain Injury and Neurovascular Pathologies (BINP), and reviewer in the VA Scientific Review groups and the Alzheimer Association’s International Research Grant Program.
Education & Training
- MD, University of Nis School of Medicine, Yugoslavia, Medicine
- Fellow, Fidia-Georgetown University, Neurosciences
Specialized Areas Research Interests
- Research: Synaptic and neurotransmitters dysfunction in pathological aging and early Alzheimer’s disease
- Clinical: Chronic effects of traumatic brain injury and neuropathological links with Alzheimer’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy
- Education: Development and validation of positron emission tomography ligands for in vivo detection of amyloid, tau, and alpha-synuclein aggregates and synaptic changes
Faculty Research Collaborations
- William Klunk, MD, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology and Levidow-Pittsburgh Foundation Chair in Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia Disorders, University of Pittsburgh
- Robert A. Sweet, MD, PhD, UPMC Endowed Professor in Psychiatric Neuroscience and Professor of Neurology and Clinical and Translational Science, University of Pittsburgh
- Benjamin L. Handen, PhD, University of Pittsburgh Department of Psychiatry
- Chester Mathis, PhD, UPMC Endowed Chair of PET Research and Distinguished Professor of Radiology, University of Pittsburgh
- Patrick Kochanek, MD, MCCM, Distinguished Professor and Ake N. Grenvik Professor of Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh
- C. Edward Dixon, PhD, Neurotrauma Chair Professor, University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurosurgery
- Anthony Kline, PhD, University of Pittsburgh Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
- Alberto Vazquez, PhD, University of Pittsburgh Department of Radiology
- Matthew Harper, PhD, University of Iowa Department of Opthamology and Visual Sciences
- Elliot Mufson, PhD, Barrow Neurological Institute
- Teresa Gomez-Isla, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Neurology
- Bernadino Ghetti, MD, Indiana University School of Medicine, Department of Pathology
Professional Organizations Membership
- American Academy of Neurology
- International Society to Advance Alzheimer Research and Treatment
- Researchers Against Alzheimer's
- National Neurotrauma Society
- Society for Neuroscience and INternational Brain Research Organization
- New York Academy of Sciences
- International Society fo Neurochemistry
- International CAA (Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy) Association
- Veterans Against Alzheimer's
- Neurotrauma, Review Editor
Honors & Awards
- The Christopher Clark Award, for continuing advancement in the field of human amyloid imaging
Abrahamson EE, Poloyac SM, Dixon CE, Dekosky ST, Ikonomovic MD. Acute and chronic effects of single dose memantine after controlled cortical impact injury in adult rats. Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2019;37(3):245-263. doi: 10.3233/RNN-190909. PMID: 31177251.
Mufson EJ, Counts SE, Ginsberg SD, Mahady L, Perez SE, Massa SM, Longo FM, Ikonomovic MD. Nerve Growth Factor Pathobiology During the Progression of Alzheimer's Disease. Front Neurosci. 2019 Jul 1;13:533. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.00533. PMID: 31312116; PMCID: PMC6613497.
Harper MM, Hedberg-Buenz A, Herlein J, Abrahamson EE, Anderson MG, Kuehn MH, Kardon RH, Poolman P, Ikonomovic MD. Blast-Mediated Traumatic Brain Injury Exacerbates Retinal Damage and Amyloidosis in the APPswePSENd19e Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2019 Jun 3;60(7):2716-2725. doi: 10.1167/iovs.18-26353. PMID: 31247112; PMCID: PMC6735799.
Abrahamson EE, Head E, Lott IT, Handen BL, Mufson EJ, Christian BT, Klunk WE, Ikonomovic MD. Neuropathological correlates of amyloid PET imaging in Down syndrome. Dev Neurobiol. 2019 Jul;79(7):750-766. doi: 10.1002/dneu.22713. Epub 2019 Aug 17. PMID: 31379087; PMCID: PMC6892598.
Abrahamson EE, Ikonomovic MD. Brain injury-induced dysfunction of the blood brain barrier as a risk for dementia. Exp Neurol. 2020 Jun;328:113257. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2020.113257. Epub 2020 Feb 21. PMID: 32092298.