Marcinkiewcz, Schultz awarded Williams-Cannon Faculty Fellowships

Two University of Iowa faculty members have been awarded Williams-Cannon Faculty Fellowships through the Iowa Neuroscience Institute (INI). Catherine Marcinkiewcz PhD, assistant professor of neuroscience and pharmacology, and Jordan Schultz, PharmD, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry, neurology and pharmacy practice and science, will each receive $47,500 in research funding.

Created through a gift to the UI Center for Advancement from Sue and Frank Cannon, the fellowships support faculty research in neurodegeneration. “This critical support from the Cannons enables our faculty in the INI to develop new and creative approaches to understanding and treating debilitating neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease” said Ted Abel, Director of the INI and chair of neuroscience and pharmacology.

Catherine Marcinkiewcz, PhDMarcinkiewcz's laboratory is focused on delineating the role of serotonin in complex brain disorders such as alcohol dependence, depression, and Alzheimer's disease. Serotonin neurons are mainly localized to the raphe nuclei of the brainstem, but their axons are widely distributed throughout the nervous system and have a ubiquitous role in physiological processes and behavior. Adding to this complexity is the diverse array of high-affinity receptors that bind serotonin, each having distinct effects on behavior. The lab is using a variety of intersectional tools for targeting, manipulating and monitoring the activity of discrete serotonin circuits in order to gain insight into how these circuits are disrupted in neurodegenerative disorders. The ultimate goal of this work is to identify new therapeutic targets for these often-intractable conditions.


Jordan Schultz, PharmDThe Schultz Lab engages in clinical and translational research involving patients with neurodegenerative diseases.  His epidemiological approach seeks to identify environmental factors, including medications, that may have an effect on disease progression.  The lab uses novel neuroimaging techniques to better understand the mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration.  He is part of a team that is building on a recent discovery about the effects of the medication terazosin, which is used to treat enlarged prostate. The team has demonstrated that the drug could also prevent cell death by activating an enzyme called PGK1, which is critical for cellular energy production. Cellular energy comes from the mitochondria, tiny structures that fuel the body by producing ATP. However, as we age, the body has fewer mitochondria and therefore less ATP. Reduced cellular energy production is a hallmark of many neurological diseases, many of which are also associated with aging. Schultz’s team is exploring the acute effects of terazosin on ATP levels in the brain and have developed a novel neuroimaging technique to quantify brain ATP levels in humans. This research could significantly enhance understanding of the connection between energy production and neurodegeneration and to lay the ground work for future studies aimed at modifying the course of neurodegenerative diseases.

The Cannons’ gift and their passion to support research stems from seeing their loved ones affected by Alzheimer’s disease. They are committed to helping Iowa researchers leave a mark in the important study of this disease and others like it, in hopes that there will be better outcomes and therapies for patients and families.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021