University of Virginia School of Medicine

University of Virginia School of Medicine Names Jeffrey R. Martens, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for Research

University of Virginia School of Medicine
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University of Virginia School of Medicine Names Jeffrey R. Martens, PhD, Senior Associate Dean for Research

25 Jan, 2023

The University of Virginia School of Medicine (UVA) has named Jeffrey R. Martens, PhD, an internationally recognized pharmacology researcher, leader, and educator, as the new Senior Associate Dean for Research. Martens will assume his new role on May 15, 2023.

“Professor Martens will be a key contributor in the transformation of the School of Medicine and UVA Health medical research program, while also managing a rapidly growing portfolio of resources, innovative projects, and talent for the School of Medicine and the greater University,” said Melina R. Kibbe, MD, the dean of the UVA School of Medicine and chief health affairs officer for UVA Health.

Martens comes to UVA from the University of Florida College of Medicine, where he has served as chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics for the past eight years. He has driven a 10-fold increase in outside research funding during his tenure. He also spearheaded collaboration within the College of Medicine as well as with research centers and institutes across the University of Florida. In addition, the academic and scientific achievements of his faculty resulted in U.S. News & World Report ranking for Pharmacology and Toxicology at UF in the top 17 nationally, the top nine among public universities and 50th internationally.

The impact of Martens’ research is demonstrated through his long list of peer-reviewed publications and the fact that his research has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and the American Heart Association, among others, since 1990. Dr. Martens’ research is focused in two areas of pharmacology and therapeutics, including sensory neuropharmacology and cardiovascular pharmacology, with work in both the heart and olfactory systems.

Martens holds longstanding memberships in several professional societies, including the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and the Association of Chemoreception Sciences. He also has served in several editorial board positions for scientific publications, most recently as an editorial advisory board member for Molecular Pharmacology.

Martens earned his bachelor’s degree and doctorate from the University of Florida and did his post-doctoral training at Colorado State University. Before joining the faculty at the University of Florida, Martens was a faculty member at Oregon Health & Science University and the University of Michigan.

“This position at UVA is a new and different opportunity to lead across department boundaries and integrate the School of Medicine’s excellent clinical, translational and basic science efforts,” Martens said. “I am excited to collaborate with the School of Medicine’s world-class faculty and join a respected leadership team at a time of transformational growth.”

He succeeds Linda Duska, MD, MPH, who has served as interim Senior Associate Dean for Research since March 15, 2021. “The strategic guidance, leadership and program oversight Dr. Duska has provided to the School of Medicine has been invaluable,” Kibbe said. “I have extraordinary gratitude for her dedication and commitment to the School of Medicine and UVA Health.”

Duska will continue in her roles as Associate Dean for Clinical Research in the School of Medicine, Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and as a gynecologic oncologist at the UVA Cancer Center.

About University of Virginia School of Medicine:

The UVA School of Medicine is a nurturing, close-knit learning community that balances a distinguished history with modern, inclusive, and diverse initiatives. Our faculty and students are dedicated to making positive contributions within the medical profession and the communities they serve.

We are proud to earn top rankings from U.S. News & World Report. In “Best Medical Schools,” the UVA School of Medicine was ranked No. 1 in Virginia for both medical research and primary care. Nationally, we were ranked in the top 20 percent in Research (#30) and Primary Care (#35). Additionally, for specialty rankings, Internal Medicine ranked #22 and Surgery ranked #23.

About Doctor:

The Martens Lab is focused in two areas of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, including sensory Neuropharmacology and cardiovascular Pharmacology, with work in both the heart and olfactory systems.

In relation to the olfactory system, the lab’s work is devoted to understanding mechanisms of olfaction, pathogenesis of olfactory dysfunction, and the development of curative therapies for anosmia. Olfactory dysfunction in the general population is frequent, affecting at least 2.5 million people in the U.S. alone. In at least 20% of the cases, the etiology of the chemosensory disturbance cannot be identified. The Martens Lab was one of the first to demonstrate olfactory dysfunction as a clinical manifestation of an emerging class of human genetic disorders, termed ciliopathies, which involve defects in ciliary assembly, maintenance, and/or function. Most importantly, the lab has demonstrated that gene therapy can be used to successfully rescue anosmia resulting from the malformation/loss of cilia. Projects in the laboratory seek to identify direct mechanisms by which sensory input and deprivation regulate olfactory function and to learn how these are disrupted in disease states. Specifically, they work to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the transport of odorant signaling proteins into cilia of olfactory sensory neurons and their alterations in cilia-related disorders. In addition, work completed in the laboratory seeks to understand the importance of cilia for neurogenesis and cell differentiation, investigating their contribution to the regenerative properties of olfactory basal stem cells. Together, this work contributes to the understanding of the pathogenesis of human sensory perception diseases and paves the way for the development of treatments for olfactory loss in humans, where no curative therapies for ciliopathic disease exist.

In relation to the cardiovascular system, projects in the Martens Lab are focused on the identification of novel targets for the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. In particular, the lab is interested in therapies for atrial fibrillation, which is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, affecting more than 2 million Americans. This electrical instability in the human heart can occur through a primary genetic defect in ion channel function or an acquired disorder attributable to ion channel dysregulation. They are interested in the regulation of voltage-gated potassium (Kv) channels that are vital for atrial repolarization in the human heart. Work in their laboratory is devoted to understanding the details of Kv channel regulation, trafficking, and pharmacological modulation and to learning how this is all integrated into the broader context of normal cardiomyocyte signaling and the pathogenesis of disease.




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