Announcing the 51st Academic Senate Faculty Research Lecture


The Academic Senate is pleased to announce the selection of Gail R. Martin, Ph.D., as the recipient of the 51st Faculty Research Lectureship.One of the pioneers in stem cell research, Dr. Martin defined methods for isolating and culturing pluripotent stem cells from mouse embryos, and coined the term “embryonic stem cells” to describe these cells. These studies provided scientists with a tool that revolutionized mouse genetics by making it possible to generate mice carrying mutations in specific genes, and also pointed the way for other scientists to develop methods to isolate stem cells from human embryos and to explore their use in treating disorders. In addition, Dr. Martin was among the first to realize that growth factors, previously identified as proteins capable of supporting cell growth in culture, have important functions during embryogenesis. She chose to focus on one family of such molecules, the Fibroblast Growth Factors (FGFs), and demonstrated their roles as critical inductive signals in the development of many organs including the brain, limbs, and teeth. More recently, her laboratory has taken the lead in studying the role of negative feedback mechanisms in regulating FGF signaling and examining the importance for embryonic patterning of controlling these potent inductive signals.

Dr. Martin points out that her work on embryonic stem cells shows how seemingly small advances in basic biology can pay off years later in unexpected ways.  She states that many people focus on cures for specific diseases, not realizing that these cures “may come from basic research in seemingly unrelated areas. What is going to be important 20 years from now isn’t clear.”  Notes colleague Professor Thomas Kornberg, Ph.D, “She has shown remarkable courage and foresight in moving her research to new and uncharted areas. … She has been willing to devote considerable resources and effort to developing new methodologies that have contributed importantly to the progress of the field.”

Dr. Martin, a native of New York City, received an A.B. at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, a Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, and then did postdoctoral work at University College London, England prior to joining the UCSF faculty in 1976.  She is now a Professor in the Department of Anatomy, and director the PIBS Program in Developmental Biology.  The many honors and awards that Dr. Martin has received include election as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1991) and the National Academy of Sciences (2002), the Edwin Grant Conklin Medal from the Society for Developmental Biology (2002), and the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize (2007). In addition, she has served as President  of the Society for Developmental Biology (2006-2007).

The Academic Senate Faculty Research Lecture will be held in Cole Hall on Tuesday, April 22, at 3:30 p.m.  A reception will follow.  Lecture will be simulcast to Rock Hall at the Mission Bay campus.

The 51st Faculty Research Lecture will be held
on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 3:30 pm in Cole Hall

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