It is with great pride that I write to announce the appointment of Kelsey Martin, M.D., Ph.D., as the Executive Vice Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor of the David Geffen School of Medicine, effective April 15, 2015.
Dr. Martin joined the UCLA faculty in 1999. A Professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry and the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, she has served as Chair of the Department of Biological Chemistry since 2010 and as Chair of the Basic Science Chairs of the David Geffen School of Medicine since 2012. Dr. Martin also currently serves as Director of the UCLA Neuroscience Research Theme. She co-directed of the UCLA-Caltech Medical Scientist Training Program from 2005- 2013.
Dr. Martin’s career at UCLA illustrates her deep commitment to fundamental scholarship, basic and translational science, and visionary leadership for the School of Medicine. Dr. Martin’s scientific work has elucidated fundamental new knowledge of the molecular biological mechanisms underlying learning and memory. Under Dr. Martin’s leadership, the Department of Biological Chemistry has recruited some of the world’s best scientists and strengthened an already enormously accomplished basic science department, which currently boasts five National Academy of Science Members and four Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators. First as the Co-Director of the UCLA-Caltech MSTP and then as Chair of the Basic Science Chairs, Dr. Martin has led the effort to more effectively bridge the basic sciences with the clinical sciences. As the newly appointed Executive Vice Dean, Dr. Martin hopes to continue these efforts as well as to help the UCLA School of Medicine more creatively and effectively engage with the local Los Angeles community as the city’s foremost public institution that is committed to the alleviation of suffering through rigorous and compassionately motivated scientific inquiry.
This new phase in Dr. Martin’s career represents the bringing together of her deep interest in the human condition and an equally strong desire to make a difference in the world. She received her B.A. in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard University. She then spent two and one-half years as a Peace Corps volunteer, leading health prevention efforts in remote villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Profoundly affected by the experience, Dr. Martin realized the potential power of medicine practiced within a social and scientific context. Especially inspired by her experience in preventing infectious disease through vaccination programs, she enrolled in the M.D./Ph.D. program at Yale University, where her Ph.D. research addressed the question of how influenza virus infects cells. After completing medical school, she was struck by that fact that neuropsychiatric disorders seemed as intractable as many of the diseases she had encountered in Africa, in part, because we lacked fundamental knowledge about brain biology and the ways in which brain biology interacts with the psychological and social to create clinical disease. These intellectual and clinical concerns led her to join the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel at Columbia University to pursue post-doctoral research on the molecular biology of learning and memory.
Dr. Martin will step down as Chair of Biological Chemistry, and Dr. John Colicelli will serve as interim chair of the department. Dr. Larry Zipursky will assume the leadership of the Neuroscience Theme.
I ask that you join me in congratulating Dr. Martin on her new position and that you offer her your support as she makes the transition to Executive Vice Dean and Associate Vice Chancellor.
John Mazziotta, M.D., Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences
Dean, David Geffen School of Medicine