Christi Kolarcik, PhD

Assistant Professor of Pathology, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine

Dr. Christi Kolarcik is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. She is an accomplished neuroscientist focused on the study of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and related neurodegenerative and neuromuscular conditions. Her research program aims to define the circuit-level organization of the motor system and to identify specific circuit- and cellular-level features underlying neuronal vulnerability in neuromuscular and neurodegenerative diseases. This work incorporates molecular, cellular, and systems-based analyses to improve function following injury or disease, particularly in the context of ALS. Her team is currently involved in multiple research projects that focus on furthering the understanding of the basic biological mechanisms underlying ALS and neural circuit dysfunction, as well as developing therapeutic technologies and strategies.

After completing her undergraduate work in biology and chemistry at the Schreyer Honors College of the Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Kolarcik received her PhD with Honors in Cellular and Molecular Pathology. She continued her fellowships at the University of Pittsburgh, first in the Swanson School of Engineering Department of Bioengineering (neural/tissue engineering) and then in the School of Medicine as a Research Associate (systems neuroscience). Dr. Kolarcik is also a graduate of the Cellular Approaches to Tissue Engineering and Regeneration (CATER) Training Program and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Training Program.

Dr. Kolarcik received the 2020 Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award and was a Leadership Academy for Early Career Faculty Fellow, both from the University of Pittsburgh. At the national level, she received the 2022 Fred Sanfilippo-ASIP Visiting Lectureship Award ( She is a member of the National ALS Association’s Board of Trustees and has been devoted to working with this patient community for over fifteen years. Her research has been funded by the NIH, UPMC, the ALS Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine.

Education & Training
BS, Pennsylvania State University, Chemistry (honors), Biology, Business (minor)
PhD (honors), University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Cellular and Molecular Pathology
Postdoctoral, University of Pittsburgh, Neural Engineering
Research Interests

Our team is working to understand amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and related neurological conditions like frontotemporal dementia (FTD) by identifying the mechanisms underlying neuronal and neural circuit dysfunction.  Our laboratory takes a multidisciplinary approach that includes cellular and molecular pathobiology, neural engineering, and systems-level neuroscience to address these devastating diseases.  We are currently involved in multiple projects and collaborative efforts designed to positively impact the ALS research landscape and believe strongly in advocating for the well-being of the people and families affected by ALS and related neurodegenerative diseases.  Our goals are to further the understanding of the basic biological mechanisms underlying dysfunction and to contribute to the development and translation of effective therapeutic targets and approaches.

Representative Publications

Recent Publications

Maurer, L, Brown, M, Saggi, T, Cardiges, A, and Kolarcik, CL.  (2022).  Hindlimb muscle representations in mouse motor cortex defined by viral tracing.  bioRxiv, 05.19.492320.


Kolarcik, CL, Bledsoe, MJ, and O’Leary, TJ.  (2022).  Returning individual research results to vulnerable individuals.  Am J Pathol, In press.


Recent Conference Presentations

Castle, J, Ferrara, J, Gau, D, Gleixner, A, Roy, P, and Kolarcik, CL.  The impact of profilin-1 mutations on protein homeostasis in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.  Experimental Biology Annual Meeting (4/2022).


Complete list of published work: