Justin Zivin, MD, PhD 

Professor Emeritus


Contact Information

Justin Zivin played a major role in the development of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) for treatment of acute stroke. He is first author on a paper published in Science in 1985, describing this definitive work. Additionally, he was an influential voice in convincing NINDS to change the paradigm of clinical stroke research by organizing a study that required a complete rethinking of how stroke care is managed. His work on tPA paved the way to FDA approval of this thrombolytic agent for the treatment of acute stroke, and tPA is currently the only internationally-approved treatment for this condition.

He served on a key panel for the Food and Drug Administration from 1995 to 1999 and provided service to NIH through membership in numerous study sections for over 20 years, which evaluate grant applications. He was also a member of the VA Merit Review Subcommittee for Neurology which provides similar services to the DVA for the period 1997–2000.

Dr. Zivin’s research efforts focus on acute ischemic stroke in animal models and in clinical trials. He is currently engaged in preclinical and clinical studies of the effects of transcranial low energy infrared lasers for treatment of acute strokes. The results have been highly promising so far, and he is co-principal investigator of a pivotal study, called NEST-3, that has recently started recruiting patients. He has also been involved in the design of numerous protocols for acute stroke treatment studies using a variety of neuroprotective agents, many in combination with thrombolysis with tPA. For several of these trials, he has been principal investigator, a member of the steering committee or Data Safety Monitoring Board.

In his laboratory research, Dr. Zivin is also concerned with identifying treatments for hemorrhagic strokes. There is currently no efficacious therapy available for this disorder. Because intracerebral hemorrhage is the most feared complication of thrombolysis, his interest in this area of research is a logical extension of previous work. The Zivin lab has discovered ways to improve the sensitivity of an intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke model that the group had previously studied. This led to an increase in the number of drugs that they could investigate, and they in fact have been able to identify a number of neuroprotective agents that reduce hemorrhage size or the related neurological dysfunction produced by intracerebral hemorrhage. Notably, they have also identified numerous neuroprotective drugs that reduce the frequency of tPA-induced hemorrhages without decreasing its potency in reducing ischemic damage.

Dr. Zivin’s research studies have been reported in numerous journals, including Neurology, Stroke, Brain Research, Annals of Neurology, Science, and New England Journal of Medicine. His laboratory is supported by substantial long-term federal funding. Additional evidence of his stature in the field of cerebrovascular disorders was recognized by his highly prestigious service as the principal organizer of the Princeton Conference on Cerebrovascular Disease in 2002.