Erik Carlson

Ph.D. 2008

Thesis Title:

Effects of Genetic and Dietary Iron Deficiency in the Developing Hippocampus

Current Position:

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington

Undergraduate Institution and Major/Degree:

Lawrence University, BA, Philosophy & Biology (double major)

Major Advisor(s):

Michael Georgieff, M.D.

Research Description:

I am interested in disorders (genetic, nutritional) of brain and cognitive development. I am working with both a rat dietary and a mouse conditional knockout model of iron deficiency, and using histochemical and behavioral techniques to assess the phenotype of iron deficiency in the developing hippocampus and neocortex.

Lab Rotations:

  • Jonathan Gewirtz
  • Charles Nelson
  • Michael Georgieff

Conferences Attended:

  • Society for Neuroscience annual meeting: Fall 2003, Fall 2005
  • Route 28 Summits in Neurobiology: Fall 2006
  • Germany Pediatric Academic Societies/Society for Pediatric Research: Spring 2005, Spring 2006, Spring 2007

Committee Members:

  • Lorene Lanier
  • Mike O'Connor-Chair
  • Anna Petryk
  • Michael Georgieff-Advisor


  • Fretham SJ, Carlson ES, Georgieff MK. Neuronal-specific iron deficiency dysregulates mammalian target of rapamycin signaling during hippocampal development in nonanemic genetic mouse models. J Nutr. 2013;143(3):260-6.
  • Fretham* SJ, Carlson* ES, Wobken J, Tran PV, Petryk A, Georgieff MK. Temporal manipulation of transferrin-receptor-1-dependent iron uptake identifies a sensitive period in mouse hippocampal neurodevelopment. Hippocampus. 2012;22:1691-702. *These authors contributed equally to this study.
  • Fretham SJ, Carlson ES, Georgieff MK. The role of iron in learning and memory. Adv Nutr. 2011;2(2):112-121.
  • Carlson ES, Fretham SJB, Unger E, O’Connor MB, Petryk A, Schallert T, Rao R, Tkac I,  Georgieff MK. Hippocampus specific iron deficiency alters competition and cooperation between developing memory systems. J Neurodev Disord. 2010;2(3):133-143.
  • Brunette KE, Tran PV, Wobken JD, Carlson ES, Georgieff MK. Gestational and neonatal iron deficiency alters apical dendrite structure of CA1 pyramidal neurons in adult rat hippocampus. Dev Neurosci. 2010;32(3):238-48.
  • Carlson ES, Tkac I, Magid R, O'Connor MB, Andrews NC, Schallert T, Gunshin H, Georgieff MK, and Petryk A. Iron is essential for neuron development and memory function in mouse hippocampus. J Nutr. 2009;139:672-679.
  • Tran PV, Fretham SJ, Carlson ES, Georgieff MK. Long-term reduction of hippocampal BDNF activity following fetal-neonatal iron deficiency in adult rats. Pediatr Res. 2009;65(5):493-8.
  • Carlson ES, Magid R, Petryk A, Georgieff MK. Iron deficiency alters expression of genes implicated in Alzheimer disease pathogenesis. Brain Res. 2008;1237:75-83. Invited manuscript for Special Issue on Nutrition and Neuroscience.
  • Tran PV, Carlson ES, Fretham SJB, Georgieff MK. Early-life iron deficiency anemia alters neurotrophic factor expression and hippocampal neuron differentiation in rats. J Nutr. 2008 Dec;138(12):2495-501.
  • Carlson ES, Stead JD, Neal CR, Petryk A, Georgieff MK. Perinatal iron deficiency results in altered developmental expression of genes mediating energy metabolism and neuronal morphogenesis in hippocampus. Hippocampus. 2007;17:679-691.

Awards and Honors:

  • 09/07-06/08 The Dr. Warren J. Warwick and Henrietta Holm Warwick Fellowship Award, Minnesota Medical Foundation.
  • 7/1/05-6/30/07 “A Genetic Model of Perinatal Iron Deficiency”
    Sponsor Award # 1F31-NS047876-01A2 Ruth L.
    Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Research
    Training Predoctoral Fellowship NIH National Institute of Neurological
    Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
  • 3/15/05-3/14/06 $2250 Medical Student Seed Grant Awardee, American
    Medical Association Foundation (
  • 1/15/05-1/14/06 $1000 Graduate Student Seed Grant Awardee, Center for NeuroBehavioralDevelopment, University of Minnesota
    7/01/04-06/30/05 Fellowship Awardee, Center for NeuroBehavioral
    Development University of Minnesota

Professional Memberships:

  • Society for Neuroscience

Home Town:

  • Minneapolis, MN
Erik Carlson