Eastern Mennonite University
Dr. Joseph B. Martin '59

Dr. Joseph B. Martin '59, former dean of Harvard Medical School and current professor of neurobiology, is the 2009 Suter Science Summit keynote speaker.

Thinking of attending? Submit an online reservation so we can plan properly.

2009 Suter Science Summit

EMU has proudly invited Dr. Joseph B. Martin '59, former dean of Harvard Medical School and current professor of neurobiology, to present on "Advances in Brain Research in the 21st Century" on Oct. 10, 2009. Thinking of attending? Submit an online reservation to assist us in planning for the event.

NOTE: The event, held in Suter Science Center, will begin with an 8 a.m. breakfast gathering; the presentation is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Following Dr. Martin's presentation, there will be a faculty-guided tour of the science center as well as a report on plans to construct new labs and renovate Suter Science Center.

"Advances in Brain Research in the 21st Century"

Martin's involvement in the field of neuroscience research spans decades, dating back to the year he completed his PhD at the University of Rochester, about a decade after his attendance at EMU.

During this presentation he will review recent advances in brain science, like brain imaging technologies that permit analysis of ongoing brain function in humans with minimal risk, and the technology of human genetics has given information on the genes that cause forms of Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's disease and Lou-Gehrig's disease. These discoveries have made possible inquiries into the mechanisms of brain cell deterioration that cause symptoms of memory loss, movement difficulties, paralysis and mood changes, like depression.

Martin will conclude his presentation with a discussion of brain plasticity, the constantly changing functions of brains with each new experience forming the basis of cognition and memory. He notes that the 20th century was the century in science of the atom, computer chip and the gene; the 21st century will be the century of the 'synapse,' the assembly of communication between nerve cells fundamental to all the communication and intellectual capabilities that humans possess.

Dr. Joseph Martin's Biography

Joseph B. Martin, M.D., Ph.D. was appointed the Edward R. and Anne G. Lefler Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School in July 2007. Prior to this appointment, he served for 10 years as dean of the faculty of medicine at Harvard University. While there he helped establish, in 1999, the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, an innovative collaboration which brings together seven Harvard-affiliated institutions intent on reducing the burden of cancer.

In 2001, with the support of an anonymous donor, he formed the Harvard Center for Neurodegeneration and Repair, a virtual community of over 500 neurology and neuroscientist faculty and researchers working together on understanding the prevention, causes, and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

In 2003, Martin dedicated Harvard Medical School's New Research Building. This 525,000 square foot structure, the largest building ever constructed at Harvard, is designed to cultivate scientific collaboration between the basic and clinical sciences.

From 1989-1993, Dr. Martin served for four years as dean of the school of medicine at UCSF. During his tenure as dean, he established the W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Integrative Neurosciences dedicated to combining studies of the brain and behavior, the Gladstone Institute for Virology and Immunology dedicated to AIDS research, and began planning for a comprehensive cancer center. In 1993, he was appointed chancellor of UCSF. During his tenure he prepared a long-range development plan for the renewal of the campus, obtaining a commitment from the city of San Francisco to expand the UCSF campus to a second major site in Mission Bay.

Born in Bassano, Alberta, Can., in 1938, Martin received his education at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, earning his MD degree in 1962. After completing a residency in neurology in 1966 and fellowship in neuropathology in 1967 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, Martin received his PhD in anatomy from the University of Rochester in 1971. He served on the faculty of medicine at McGill University in Montreal from 1970-78.

Following his tenure at McGill, he was chief of the neurology service at Massachusetts General Hospital and Julieanne Dorn Professor of Neurology at HMS from 1978-1989. His early research centered on the hypothalamic regulation of pituitary hormone secretion. At the Massachusetts General Hospital, he led the development in neurogenetics of neurodegenerative disorders, leading to the discovery of the gene for HD.

Martin spent one year of his undergraduate studies at Eastern Mennonite College (now University), where he focused on ethics and Bible studies. (Read more at www.emu.edu/crossroads/summer08/joe-martin.) He and his wife Rachel (Wenger) Martin are active members in the Mennonite Congregation of Boston, where Dr. Martin currently serves as a member of the church council. The couple has four children and six grandchildren.