Kelsey Martin joined the Simons Foundation in September 2021 as director of SFARI and the Simons Foundation Neuroscience Collaborations. She previously served as dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), chair of the UCLA Department of Biological Chemistry and professor in the UCLA Department of Biological Chemistry and the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences. Her research addresses the cellular and molecular biology of long-term synaptic plasticity and memory, with a focus on experience-dependent regulation of gene expression in neurons. Her lab has discovered signaling molecules that travel from stimulated synapses to the nucleus to impact transcription. They have also elucidated functions for the translation of synaptically localized mRNAs during synapse formation and plasticity. As dean at UCLA, Martin established programs in precision health and computational medicine and developed a series of interdepartmental research initiatives spanning basic through clinical research.
Martin earned her bachelor’s degree at Harvard University, her M.D. and Ph.D. in molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University and completed her postdoctoral training with Eric Kandel at Columbia University. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in maternal and child health in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) inspired her to pursue a career in medicine and science.