David Stoltz, MD, PhD, professor in Pulmonary, Critical Care and Occupational Medicine, is one of six researchers named this week to the University of Iowa Health Care Distinguished Scholars Program (DSP). This program aims to support internationally recognized scientists who are leaders in their fields of research. Each of them will receive $200,000 grants per year to support the expansion of their research for three years.
Stoltz studies the pathogenesis of cystic fibrosis (CF) airway disease, especially the airway epithelial and smooth muscle in CF and during bacterial infection. Stoltz co-developed a CF pig model, which aside from the mice models, is one of the first gene-modified disease models for humans. Using this model, Stoltz significantly advanced research by definitively demonstrating that infection precedes inflammation in the CF lung. Many more of his discoveries in the years since have shaped the direction of not only CF research internationally but pulmonary research in general.
Stoltz currently serves as PI on three different research projects and assists and mentors others on even more. Most notably, Stoltz currently leads a team of researchers on a recently renewed five-year, $11.5M NIH program project grant. During the original grant project, CF airways in the pig models were identified as more susceptible to airway infections. In the renewal, researchers are developing new therapeutics based on their earlier and continuing discoveries of CF pathogenesis with a new focus on small airways and virology. In 2019, Stoltz was named to the inaugural Pulmonary Research Professorship, and the year before he became the director of Iowa’s Physician-Scientist Training Pathway.
An initiative meant to catalyze new discovery, the DSP will name six new scholars next year and the year after, supporting a total of 18 scholars at a time. Scholars named to the program will have the option of submitting renewal applications at the end of their term. The other five scholars named with Stoltz are Christopher Ahern, PhD, professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics; Matthew Potthoff, PhD, associate professor of Neuroscience and Pharmacology; Maria Spies, PhD, professor of Biochemistry; Samuel Young, PhD, associate professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology; and Jian Zhang, MD, professor of Pathology.