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Zora Kikinis, Ph.D.

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My area of research focuses on exploring the origins of mental disorders through non-invasive brain neuroimaging techniques.

At present, my focus lies on long-COVID, also called as Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Infection (PASC), particularly within the neuropsychiatric sub-type termed neuro-PASC. Neuro-PASC presents with executive impairments often termed 'brain fog', and fatigue. Cognitive deficits and fatigue are the primary symptoms driving disability. The economic burden of PASC has been estimated to amount to $140 to $600 billion annually (Mirin 2022). Using the cumulative burden in disability-adjusted life years (DALY), PASC ranks first among all diseases listed, with 9,6% of individuals affected (Bowe et al., 2023). In summary, the public health impact of PASC is estimated to be more than 50% greater than that of cancer or heart disease (Bowe et al., 2023). My research aims to untangle the relationship between cognitive deficits, fatigue, pro-inflammatory markers, viral presence, and alterations in brain white matter among individuals experiencing neuro-PASC.

My past projects focused on the investigation of changes in brain white matter in patients with schizophrenia and in people with Velocardiofacial syndrome (VCFS). VCFS is a disorder that confers a large risk for developing schizophrenia (i.e., approximately 30% of these individuals develop schizophrenia). VCFS is characterized by a 22q11.2 chromosomal deletion that seems to predispose the patient to schizophrenia and other mental disorders. Structural MRI neuroimages of the patients show decreased frontal, temporal and parietal gray matter volumes as well as changes in brain white matter fiber tracts. My team was able to localize changes in brain structures of young adolescent individuals with VCFS and link them to deficits in neuropsychological functioning that precede prodromal symptoms and psychosis.

Partnering with local, national and international collaborators, I've taken the lead in conducting studies and contributing to publications spanning diverse topics such as obesity, the autonomic nervous system, pain management, traumatic brain injury, schizophrenia, and women's health.

The research activities and funding listed below are automatically derived from NIH ExPORTER and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing items. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
  1. R21MH106793 (KIKINIS, ZORA) Dec 7, 2015 - Nov 30, 2018
    Structural Connectivity Biomarkers in Prodromes and 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome.
    Role: Principal Investigator

Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
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Funded by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through its Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, grant number UL1TR002541.