Nasser Zawia

Dr. Nasser Zawia

University of Rhode Island


Nasser H. Zawia, Ph.D is the Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Rhode Island, where he oversees about 90 masters, doctoral, and professional degree programs with an enrollment of about 3000 students. He is the founder and director of the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Program and played a founding role in the formation of the George and Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience. Additionally, he has served on the board of the Northeast Alliance of Graduate Schools, and on advisory boards of the Council of Graduate School (CGS), headquartered in Washington, DC. He is a Professor of Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Neuroscience. He had served as the Assistant Director of the Rhode Island Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network, which established the first network of its kind in the state with eight participating Universities. Dr. Zawia obtained his Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of California, his MS in Pharmacology and Physiology from Loma Linda University, and his BS in Biochemistry from the University of Massachusetts. He received postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Health (NIH) and served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sana’a and as a Fulbright Scholar to Yemen. His current research is focused on environmental risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). He is a leader in the epigenetics of AD and his work has been featured by national and international media such as ABC News, CBS, and CNN. He has repurposed a drug for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and tauopathies (FTD, PSP), which was granted orphan drug status by the FDA and the EMA and is under consideration for clinical trials in the USA and Europe. Dr. Zawia has published over 100 papers and book chapters and has edited a book on Molecular Toxicology and a Journal issue for Current Alzheimer’s Research. His research has been supported by millions of dollars from the NIH, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Environmental protection Agency (EPA). He has Chaired NIH grant study sections and also serves as a reviewer on many international journals and funding agencies as well as on the editorial board of the Journal of NeuroToxicology, Current Alzheimer’s Research, and the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (JAD). He has received numerous honors such as US Environmental Protection Agency (Scientific and Technological Achievement Award, Level I), Fidia Foundation, NIH, the Government of Yemen, the Indian Society of Physiology, and others.



Epigenetics and the Brain: How early life experiences or environmental exposures predetermine how you brain responds to disease in old age

Epigenetics is commonly understood as a developmental and/or embryonic phenomenon in which the gene expression programs, the fate and tissue specificity of a cell is determined by another layer of control that transforms the fixed genetic code of every cell into different phenotypes. However, epigenetic phenomena in the brain are not restricted to the developmental period. As a matter of fact, the brain is designed to interact and adapt to its environment, and process physical, emotional and sensory inputs, thus requiring a capacity to reprogram and remodel itself across the lifetime. The connectivity of brain networks is constantly influenced by dynamic interactions with external stimuli that determine the architecture and plasticity of the brain. Therefore, epigenetics in the brain plays a significant role throughout the lifespan of postmitotic neurons and is an essential component of their physiology. This presentation, we discuss exceptional epigenetics in the brain. .