2019 Finalist Zvonimir Vrselja, M.D., Ph.D., Yale School of Medicine

Zvonimir Vrselja, M.D., Ph.D.

Zvonimir Vrselja received his M.D. and Ph.D. from J. J. Strossmayer University in Croatia. After completing his graduate education, he started his postdoctoral training at Yale University in the United States of America. He currently holds the position of Associate Research Scientist in the Sestan Laboratory at the Yale School of Medicine. His research focuses on the development of a system that preserves global anatomical organization, as well as cellular organization, attenuates cell death, and restores neuronal, glial, and vascular functionality, along with global metabolism, in isolated large mammalian brains several hours after death.

Destined for destruction? Restoring brain circulation and cell functions after prolonged global anoxia
This publication describes the restoration and maintenance of microcirculation, as well as molecular and cellular functions, in the intact porcine brain under ex-vivo normothermic conditions four hours after death. This was achieved by developing both a custom extracorporeal pulsatile-perfusion system and a cell-free, hemoglobin-based, cytoprotective perfusate that promotes recovery from anoxia, reduces reperfusion injury, and metabolically supports the energy requirements of the brain. Utilizing these technologies, the authors report the restoration of circulation throughout the entire brain, preservation of anatomical and cytoarchitectonic structures, attenuation of cell death, and restoration of vascular dilatory and glial inflammatory responses, as well as spontaneous synaptic activity and active cerebral metabolism in the absence of global electrocorticographic activity. These findings demonstrate that, under appropriate conditions, the isolated, intact large mammalian brain possesses an underappreciated capacity for restoration of microcirculation and molecular and cellular activity following a prolonged post-mortem interval.

For Zvonimir Vrselja’s full essay, see Science online at sciencemag.org