Department Head and Professor, Immunobiology

Janko Nikolich-Žugich received his MD and PhD from Belgrade University School of Medicine in Serbia and subsequently trained with Michael Bevan at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation. In 1990, he joined the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and became an Assistant Professor at both the Cornell University Graduate School of Medical Sciences and the Cornell University School of Medicine. In 2001, Janko Nikolich-Žugich assumed the position of Senior Scientist at the at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute of Oregon Health & Science University, along with joint appointments as a tenured Professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, and a Senior Scientist at the Oregon National Primate Research Center. In 2008, he moved to the University of Arizona to lead the Department of Immunobiology and the Arizona Center on Aging. Besides planning and discussing his research and mentoring trainees, he enjoys playing tennis year-round.


Assistant Research Professor, Immunobiology

Mladen Jergovic obtained his masters and doctoral degrees at the University of Zagreb, Croatia. In 2015, he joined the Nikolich-Zugich lab as a postdoctoral researcher, where he is currently investigating the molecular mechanisms behind age-dependent vulnerability to infection with intracellular pathogens. Mladen is a postdoc with two small children, so he has no free time or hobbies.

Associate Research Scientist

Jennifer Uhrlaub received a BA from McDaniel College and a Master's in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University. She has been with the Nikolich Lab since 2005 working on a diverse array of projects to understand immune determinants of increased susceptibility to acute and chronic viral infection with age. One of her favorite things about Tucson is entertaining on her patio in the middle of “winter."  

UA Associate

Ruchika has a PhD degree from IIT Delhi in the area of Computational Biology. She joined as a postdoc in Nikolich Lab in March 2020. Her work includes applications of bioinformatics in the area of comparative RNA seq analysis on mouse model ageing and immunobiology. When she is not working, she is writing poems, sketching, reading storybooks, meditating. 

Research Scientist

Kathryn earned her B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UC Davis.  After graduating she worked as a technician, first in the lab of Dr. Robert Fairclough at UCD studying the pathogenesis of Myasthenia Gravis, and then in the lab of Dr. Nevan Krogan at UCSF studying the protein interactions between HIV and its host cell.  Kathryn earned her PhD at UC Riverside under the guidance of Dr. Emma Wilson studying T cell migration behavior in the T. gondii infected brain.  She did her postdoc at U of A in Dr. Koshy's lab, where she continued to study how Toxoplasma changes the brain and how those changes may alter the pathology of Alzheimer's Disease.

Assistant Specialist, Immunobiology

Jose Padilla-Torres graduated from the UABC, Mexicali, Mexico in 1980 with a B.S. in Veterinary Medicine. He joined the Nikolich Lab in 2008 and manages the extensive transgenic mouse colony and assists in parabiosis and other surgeries, and maintains and supervises the biosafety, radiation safety and other compliance trainings and records. When not in the lab, he likes mountain biking, traveling, and enjoying the beaches of Mexico (Lets all go!!!).

Postdoctoral Research Associate IV

Sandip A. Sonar received his master’s degree in Virology from National Institute of Virology (University of Pune), Pune, India, and Ph.D. in Biotechnology from National Centre for Cell Science (Savitribai Phule Pune University), Pune, India.  In 2019, he joined the Nikolich-Zugich lab as a postdoctoral researcher, where he is currently investigating the cellular and molecular basis of an age-related physiological and immune function decline in frail syndrome. When not at work, Sandip enjoys playing music, watching Bollywood movies, exploring new places and hiking.



Trevor is a Biochemistry and Physiology double major working as an undergraduate researcher in the Wu lab. He is responsible for helping genotype. When he isn't in the lab, he is usually drinking tea or coffee and hanging out with his friends.


Faith Warner is currently a junior at the University of Arizona and is working towards a BS in Microbiology. She is a student volunteer in the Nikolich-Zugich lab studying under Ilijia Jeftic to understand the mechanism of age-related lymph node fibrosis. When not studying, Faith is reading a good mystery book, playing basketball, or hiking around Tucson.

Associate Research Scientist

Makiko Watanabe received her DVM from Rakuno Gakuen University in 1997 and her Ph.D. from Osaka University in 2001. After moving to the USA, she has been working mainly as a virologist at several industry and academic research institutes. She joined the Nikolich Lab in 2019 as an Associate Research Scientist to use her expertise in virology and mouse studies and to expand her experience in human immunology research. Makiko enjoys riding her YAMAHA motorcycle in the perfect weather of Tucson whole year around.

Graduate Student, Nikolich-Zugich Lab, Immunobiology Track

Christine Bradshaw received her BS in Microbiology at The University of Arizona. In 2019, she joined the Nikolich-Zugich lab as a doctoral student where she is currently investigating the role of cytokines in aging-associated diseases. Outside of the lab she enjoys hosting board game nights, reading fiction, and spending time with family.

Graduate Student, Nikolich-Zugich Lab, Immunobiology Track

Chris Coplen obtained his BS in Biology at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. In 2018, he joined the Nikolich-Zugich lab as a doctoral student and began his work investigating the molecular mechanisms which underlie age-related alterations in T cell receptor repertoires. Outside of lab he enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, and playing music.


Dragana Nikolich-Zugich

Research Associate

John Davies

Postdoctoral Fellow, National Cancer Institute

Emily Goldberg, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate, Yale School of Medicine

Jason Pugh, PhD

Postdoctoral Scholar, Stanford University

Kristin Renkema, PhD

Assistant Professor, Grand Valley State University

Brian Rudd, MPH, PhD

Associate Professor of Immunology, Cornell University

Megan Smithey, PhD

Senior Scientist, Vir Biotechnology Inc.

Justin Frere

MD, PhD Candidate Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Carly Cabel

PhD Candidate, University of Arizona - Cancer Biology

Heather Linn Thompson

Senior Design Quality Engineer, Ventana Medical Systems