James F Martin, MD, PhD

Dr. Martin is an internationally recognized developmental and regenerative biologist who has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of development, disease, and regeneration. He has authored more than 135 peer-reviewed papers in top journals such as Nature, Science, Cell, Developmental Cell, Plos Genetics, Development, and PNAS. Show full bio

Dr. Martin’s research is aimed at understanding how signaling pathways are related to development and tissue regeneration. The ultimate goal of his work is to obtain an in depth understanding of these pathways in order to develop ways to treat congenital diseases and regenerate heart muscle and other adult tissues.

Heart failure is a leading cause of death because heart muscle is non-regenerative. Dr. Martin has helped solve the problem of failed heart muscle regeneration by discovering the important pathways that inhibit heart muscle regeneration. He has shown that adult heart muscle can be molecularly manipulated to promote heart repair.

He and his team recently discovered that Hippo signaling is a critical repressor of adult heart regeneration. His lab has worked with single cell transcriptomics for the past three years and has developed the expertise to perform and analyze data.  This recent groundbreaking work on the Hippo pathway in heart size regulation is a landmark study that led to the insight that the Hippo pathway is an inhibitor of adult heart muscle regeneration. Dr. Martin’s insights revealed new avenues for treatment of human heart failure.

Dr. Martin has also made fundamental insights into the role of the transcription factor Pitx2 in atrial fibrillation, the most common sustained arrhythmia in the human population. He made use of the mouse model to investigate Pitx2 in atrial homeostasis but also in left right asymmetric morphogenesis that is essential for human development. Dr. Martin’s studies investigating Pitx2 function in craniofacial development provided insight into the molecular basis of Rieger syndrome. He uncovered a pivotal function for Bmp signaling in endothelial-mesenchymal transition and cardiac valve development. Dr. Martin’s studies uncovered a novel role for canonical Wnt signaling in cardiac progenitor cell diversification. He found the first microRNA implicated in orofacial clefting. Dr. Martin’s studies are highly cited and also reported on by the lay media.

See Publications

Texas Heart Institute Positions

Current Projects

  • Genetic pathways & cell signaling
  • microRNAs in development and disease
  • Bmp signaling in development and human disease
  • Pitx2 in cardiovascular development and disease
  • Wnt and Hippo signaling in heart development and regeneration


  • Cardiac and craniofacial stem cell biology
  • Cell and Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Biology and Genetics
  • Human Disease
  • Cardiovascular Sciences


  • Undergraduate:

    Fordham University (Bronx, NY)

  • Medical School:

    University of Texas Medical School At Houston

  • Fellowships:

    The University of Texas Health Science Center, GSBS, Houston, TX
    University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Academic & Clinical Affiliations

  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Faculty Member, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
  • Faculty Member, The Texas A&M System Health Science Center, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, College Station, Texas


  • Texas State Board of Medical Examiners

Honors, Awards and Memberships


Recent News

Dr. James Martin’s Congenital Heart Disease Research Featured by Healio

Healio News interviewed Texas Heart Institute’s Dr. James Martin about his laboratory’s collaborative research study on congenital heart disease, performed with research...

Houston Chronicle Features Dr. James Martin’s Congenital Heart Disease Research

Congenital heart disease (CHD) – a spectrum of heart defects that develop before birth – can lead to pediatric heart...

Collaborating to Develop A New Roadmap for Personalized Medicine

THI’s Cardiomyocyte Renewal Laboratory takes a closer look at the gene expression landscape of congenital heart disease Researchers in the...