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  8. Syed Imam
  1. Science & Research (NCTR)

Syed Imam M.S., Ph.D.

Staff Fellow — Division of Neurotoxicology

Dr. Syed Imam
Syed Imam, M.S., Ph.D.

(870) 543-7121

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About  |  Publications  |  Lab Members


Dr. Syed Imam received his B.S. degree in zoology in 1994 from Bihar University. He then went to Hamdard University where he received his M.S. in toxicology in 1996 and his Ph.D. in neurotoxicology in 2002. He received his postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging in the genetics of age-related neurological disorders. He was a junior faculty member in the Department of Medicine at University of Texas Health Sciences at San Antonio where he focused on macrophage-based gene therapy for neurological disorders. He was then a tenure-track assistant professor at the University of Texas Health Sciences at San Antonio.

Dr. Imam is currently a staff scientist in NCTR’s Division of Neurotoxicology where he conducts research on:

  • drug discovery
  • safety and efficacy evaluation for neurological disorders
  • development of neurotoxicity biomarkers
  • discovery of a nicotine-based nano-conjugate for Parkinson’s disease (U.S. and International Patent: 62/010,033 and PCT/US2015/035099, respectively).

He is an adjunct faculty of geriatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and of medicine at the University of Texas Health Sciences at San Antonio. Dr. Imam has authored over 55 manuscripts and many more abstracts and has served as an expert grant reviewer on several scientific committees, including those for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and the Michael J. Fox Foundation. He serves as NCTR’s liaison to the Committee on Parkinson’s Prevention (CPP) as part of the Critical Path Initiative. In addition, he serves as NCTR’s liaison to the European Cooperation in Science and Technology initiative with a focus on the NANO4NEURO action committee.

Research Interests

Dr. Imam’s major focus consists of regulation of global oxidative damage and mitochondrial functions in neurons to prevent the progression of neurological disorders. The idea of drug development at its various stages including clinical trials and regulatory aspects have become a focal point of his research and he has spent the last three years studying various therapeutic molecules to prevent the progression of neurological disorders. To that effect, he discovered the role of Abl tyrosine kinase in Parkinson’s disease (PD), a breakthrough that has led to drug repositioning of various Abl inhibitors as successful therapeutics for PD. He has also developed a nanoconjugate of nicotine and NanoCeria for therapeutic use in the prevention of disease progression in Parkinson’s disease. This invention has received full US and International Patents. 

Very recently, his research has focused on development of fluidic biomarkers of central nervous system (CNS) damage. This research has led to an active discussion regarding the development of circulating biomarkers in serum, plasma, cerebrospinal fluid, and urine that may indicate the early detection and progression of damage and toxicity to the CNS.

Finally, he has begun to utilize high-throughput neurophysiological approaches via multi-electrode technology to evaluate safety and efficacy of regulated products as well as new therapeutic candidates in an in vitro model of human primary neurons.

Professional Societies/National and International Groups

Neurotoxicity Biomarker Working Group (Health Environment Science Institute and FDA)
Committee Member
2014 – Present  

Safety Pharmacology Society
2018 – Present

Society for Neuroscience – Arkansas Chapter
2013 – Present

Society of Toxicology 
2018 – 2020


Selected Publications

Drug Discovery and Development: Biomarkers of Neurotoxicity and Neurodegeneration.
Walker A.L., Imam S.Z., and Roberts R.A. 
Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2018, 243(13):1037-1045. doi: 10.1177/1535370218801309. Epub 2018 Sep 25.

Changes in the Metabolome and MicroRNA Levels in Biological Fluids Might Represent Biomarkers of Neurotoxicity: A Trimethyltin Study.
Imam S.Z., He Z., Cuevas E., Rosas-Hernandez H., Lantz S.M., Sarkar S., Raymick J., Robinson B., Hanig J.P., Herr D., MacMillan D., Smith A., Liachenko S., Ferguson S., O'Callaghan J., Miller D., Somps C., Pardo I.D., Slikker W. Jr., Pierson J.B., Roberts R., Gong B., Tong W., Aschner M., Kallman M.J., Calligaro D., and Paule M.G..
Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2018, 243(3):228-236. doi: 10.1177/1535370217739859. Epub 2017 Nov 6.

Protein Kinases and Parkinson's Disease.
Mehdi S.J., Rosas-Hernandez H., Cuevas E., Lantz S.M., Barger S.W., Sarkar S., Paule M.G., Ali S.F., and Imam S.Z.
Int J Mol Sci. 2016, 17(9). pii: E1585.

Neuroprotective and Therapeutic Strategies Against Parkinson's Disease: Recent Perspectives.
Sarkar S., Raymick J., and Imam S.
Int J Mol Sci. 2016, 17(6). pii: E904. doi: 10.3390/ijms17060904.

Iron Oxide Nanoparticles Induce Dopaminergic Damage: In Vitro Pathways and In Vivo Imaging Reveals Mechanism of Neuronal Damage.
Imam S.Z., Lantz-McPeak S.M., Cuevas E., Rosas-Hernandez H., Liachenko S., Zhang Y., Sarkar S., Ramu J., Robinson B.L., Jones Y., Gough B., Paule M.G., Ali S.F., and Binienda Z.K.
Mol Neurobiol. 2015, 52(2): 913-26. doi: 10.1007/s12035-015-9259-2.

Neuroprotective Efficacy of a New Brain-penetrating C-Abl Inhibitor in a Murine Parkinson's Disease Model.
Imam S.Z, Trickler W., Kimura S., Binienda Z.K., Paule M.G., Slikker W. Jr., Li S., Clark R.A., and Ali S.F.
PLoS One. 2013, 8(5): e65129. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065129.

Bone Marrow-Derived Microglia-Based Neurturin Delivery Protects Against Dopaminergic Neurodegeneration in a Mouse Model of Parkinson's Disease.
Biju K.C., Santacruz R.A., Chen C., Zhou Q., Yao J., Rohrabaugh S.L., Clark R.A., Roberts J.L., Phillips K.A., Imam S.Z., and Li S.
Neurosci Lett. 2013, 535: 24-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2012.12.034.

Novel Regulation of Parkin Function Through C-Abl-Mediated Tyrosine Phosphorylation: Implications for Parkinson's Disease.
Imam S.Z., Zhou Q., Yamamoto A., Valente A.J., Ali S.F., Bains M., Roberts J.L., Kahle P.J., Clark R.A., and Li S.
J Neurosci. 2011, 31(1): 157-63. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1833-10.2011.


Lab Members

Contact information for all lab members:
(870) 543-7121

Susan M. Burks

Contact Information
Syed Imam
(870) 543-7121
Technology & Discipline
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