Ibolja Cernak, MD, PhD


  • MS, Biomedical Engineering, Center for Multidisciplinary Studies, University of Belgrade
  • MS, Homeland Security in Public Health Preparedness, The Pennsylvania State of Medicine College of Medicine
  • MD, University of Belgrade School of Medicine
  • PhD, Pathophysiology & Neuroscience, Military Medical Academy, University of Belgrade
  • Residency, Clinical Pathophysiology, Military Medical Academy, University of Belgrade

Research Interest

Dr. Cernak’s clinical and experimental research focuses on the pathobiology and rehabilitation of long-term neurological, behavioral and multi-organ functional deficits caused by injury and/or chronic stress, especially in military and Veterans’ populations.. Specifically, her research topics include: 1) chronic and operational injuries and stressors as well as their co-morbidities; among them, blast injuries, traumatic brain injuries including blast-induced neurotrauma (BINT), related neurological deficits and systemic organ function-impairments; 2) physiological and psychological mechanisms of resilience, and their importance in injury and chronic stress recovery and rehabilitation; 3) neurodegeneration and facilitated aging caused by traumatic brain injury and chronic stress exposure; and 4) translational research synchronizing multiple disciplines and optimizing research findings for health care application.

Selected Publications

  • CERNAK, I. Military-relevant rodent models of blast-induced traumatic brain injuries. In: K.K.W. Wang (ed) Neurotrauma – A Comprehensive Book on Traumatic Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury), Oxford University Press, New York, (NY, USA) 2019, pp. 285-313, ISBN 978-0-027943-1.
  • KONAN, L.M., SONG, H., PENTECOST, G., FOGWE, D., NDAM, T., CUI, J., JOHNSON, C.E., GRANT, D., WHITE, T., CHEN, M., XIA, W., CERNAK, I., DEPALMA, R.G., GU, Z. Multi-Focal Neuronal Ultrastructural Abnormalities and Synaptic Alterations in Mice after Low-Intensity Blast Exposure. J Neurotrauma,  2019; 36(13): 2117-2128, doi: 10.1089/neu.2018.6260.
  • HELLEWELL, S. & CERNAK, I. Measuring Resilience to Operational Stress in Canadian Armed Forces Personnel. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 2018; 31(1): 89-101, doi: 10.1002/jts.22261.
  • CERNAK, I. Understanding blast-induced neurotrauma: how far have we come? Concussion, CNC42, 1-19, doi: 10.2217/cnc-2017-0006, 2017.
  • CERNAK, I., STEIN, D., AHLERS, S., CURLEY, K., DUDA, J., IKONOMOVIC, M., IVERSON, G.L., KOLIATSOS, V.E., LEGGIERI, M.J., PACIFICO, A.M., SMITH, D.H., SWANSON, R., THOMPSON, F.J., TORTELLA, F.C., and ELDER, G. Preclinical modeling of militarily relevant traumatic brain injuries: Challenges and recommendations for Future Directions. Brain Injury, 2017; 9: 1168-1176.
  • CERNAK, I. Blast-Induced Neurotrauma. In: Youmans and Winn Neurological Surgery, 4-Volume Set, 7th Edition (ed. Winn, H), Section XI. Trauma: PART 3 Management of Traumatic Brain Injury. Elsevier (Amsterdam, NL), 2016, pp. 2933-2942, ISBN 978-0323287821.
  • CERNAK, I. The importance of systemic response in the pathobiology of blast-induced neurotrauma. Frontiers in Neurology, 2010; 1(Article 151): 1-9, doi: 10.3389/fneur.2010.00151.
  • CERNAK, I., NOBLE-HAEUSSLEIN, L.J. Traumatic brain injury: an overview of pathobiology with emphasis on military populations. Journal of Cereb Blood Flow Metabolism, 2010; 30: 255-266.
  • CERNAK, I. Recent advances in neuroprotection for treating traumatic brain injury. Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs, 2006; 15(11): 1371-81.
  • CERNAK, I., SAVIC, J., IGNJATOVIC, D., JEVTIC, M. Blast injury from explosive munitions. Journal of Trauma, 1999; 47(1): 96-103.

Click here to see the full list of Dr. Cernak’s work.


  • Principal Investigator, Blast-induced Traumatic Brain Injury: The Role of Microvascular Changes, the National Defense Medical College of Japan; 09/2020-09/2023.
  • Special Advisor (PI: Zezong Gu, University of Missouri), Low-Intensity Blast-Induced Brain Molecular and Ultrastructural Abnormalities in Human Tau Transgenic Mice, Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs – Alzheimer- Research Program Convergence Science Research Award (W81XWH-18-PRARP-CSRA), 04/2019 – 03/2022.
  • Principal Investigator, “Military and First Responders’ Mental Health Research,” Multi-Source Community Donations Alberta, Canada, 02/2015 – 01/2018
  • Principal Investigator, Therapeutic Effects of NK1 Antagonists in Blast-induced Neurotrauma, University of Adelaide, 09/2015 – 08/2018.
  • Principal Investigator, Cerebellar Dysfunction Caused by Blast Exposure(s), Canadian Institute for Health Research,  09/2013 – 08/2018.

Professional Involvement

  • International Association for Medical Science Educators (IAMSE)
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Human Force and Medicine Task Groups
  • Institute of Medicine (IOM) of National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Board: Population Health and Public Health Practice

Contact Dr. Ibolja Cernak