University of South Florida

Gopal Thinakaran appointed CEO of Byrd Alzheimer’s Center & Research Institute
Gopal Thinakaran, PhD

USF Health’s Gopal Thinakaran, PhD, is an internationally recognized Alzheimer’s  researcher.

Gopal Thinakaran, PhD, was recently appointed chief executive officer of the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Center and Research Institute. Dr. Thinakaran assumed the position from Harry van Loveren, MD, chair neurosurgery and vice dean for clinical affairs at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, who has chosen to step down as Byrd CEO after serving for several exemplary years in this role.

“In the past three years, the Byrd Institute has experienced tremendous growth under the leadership of Dr. van Loveren and the Neuroscience Institute Executive Committee,” Dr. Thinakaran said. “I am honored to have this opportunity to advocate for the Byrd Institute’s research, clinical, and educational missions. I will strive to attract exceptional talent to the Byrd Institute and promote a culture of excellence in basic science and clinical research.”

As the new Byrd Institute CEO, Dr. Thinakaran will work closely with the dedicated team at the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute, including Amanda Smith, MD, director of clinical research, and Eileen Poiley, director of education.

Dr. Thinakaran, professor of molecular medicine and the Eric Pfeiffer Endowed Chair in Alzheimer’s Research at USF Health, is a permanent member on National Institutes of Health (NIH) study sections and other grant funding agencies, as well as serving on the editorial boards of several major neuroscience journals. He earned his PhD in molecular biology and genetics at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. After finishing his PhD, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship in pathology from Johns Hopkins University and later served as a research associate in the Division of Neuropathology.

He joined USF Health in 2019 as a professor with tenure from the University of Chicago, where he served as a professor in the Department of Neurobiology.  Prior to that, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Pathology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

For over 20 years, Dr. Thinakaran has directed a highly collaborative research group investigating cellular and molecular mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis. He has over 136 publications and has repeatedly secured research funding, including numerous NIH R01 level grants. Dr. Thinakaran brings a well-established and funded, internationally recognized research program and a wealth of leadership experience.

Under Dr. van Loveren’s leadership, the Byrd Institute, which is devoted to advancing research, education, treatment, prevention, and the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, now has $6.7 million in federal awards, including 11 NIH RO1s and $2.8 million in clinical trials funding.

“These amounts represent very significant increases over the past four years and the upward trend is continuing, all a testament to the strength of Harry’s leadership,” said Charles J. Lockwood, MD, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine. “I would like to thank Dr. van Loveren for his exceptional service to both USF Health and the Byrd Institute, and express my great confidence in Dr. Thinakaran’s leadership and his vision for the Institute moving forward.”

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