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

Interests

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

Education

  • 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

Certifications

  • Texas State Board of Medical Examiners

Honors, Awards and Memberships

  • Vivian Smith Professor in Regenerative Medicine;
  • Member, Society for Developmental Biology
  • Member, American Heart Association
  • Member, Heart Rhythm Society

Publications

Recent News

Dr. Emerson Perin to be honored at 18th Annual Texas Update in Cardiovascular Advancements

Over the past decade, physicians and scientists have worked diligently to find ways to combat the various physiological and behavioral...

Cardiomyocyte Renewal Lab’s Discovery is Showcased in TMC News

Dr. James Martin, Director of Texas Heart Institute’s Cardiomyocyte Renewal Laboratory, was interviewed by TMC News regarding work he and...

Texas Heart Institute team makes discovery that puts heart regeneration one step closer to reality

Houston, TX (June 22, 2017) – Researchers in Texas Heart Institute’s Cardiomyocyte Renewal Laboratory published study results in the high-impact...