Benjamin Martin Receives Young Investigator Award for Promising Research

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Benjamin Martin, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, has received the Pershing Square Sohn Prize for Young Investigators in Cancer Research for his work with circulating tumor cells. The award, granted to promising early career New York City-area cancer research scientists, includes a three-year $600,000 grant, effective July 1.

Benjamin Martin

Dr. Martin in the lab

Professor Martin and colleague David Q. Matus, PhD, are using state-of-the-art microscopy and genetic analysis of circulating tumor cells to achieve an unprecedented level of understanding about how these cells exit blood vessels and invade news sites on the body.

To help accelerate breakthroughs in cancer research, the Pershing Square Research Alliance has invested $25 million in next generation medical research talent.

Dr. Ben Martin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Stony Brook University, and a member of the Stony Brook Cancer Center. His interest in cancer research originates from his love of developmental biology. Cancer initiation and disease progression is highly correlated with the reactivation of genetic and cellular programs that are critical for embryonic development.

The foundation of knowledge and tools used for his developmental biology research has set the stage for his work using light-sheet imaging to visualize cancer metastasis in the zebrafish xenograft model. Dr. Martin grew up in the Philadelphia area and received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Bowdoin College in 1999. He pursued his blossoming interest in developmental biology during his Ph.D. studies at the University of California, Berkeley, working in the laboratories of Dr. Richard Harland and Dr. Sharon Amacher.

There he studied the genetic and cellular mechanisms of skeletal muscle formation during development using the Xenopus laevis and zebrafish vertebrate model systems. After receiving his Ph.D. in 2005, he moved to the University of Washington, where he was an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of David Kimelman, studying stem cell biology in the developing zebrafish embryo. Dr. Martin started his own lab at Stony Brook University in 2012 and is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Career Award and the Damon Runyon-Rachleff Innovation Award.

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