He graduated from the State University of New York at Fredonia with an A.B. degree in biology and chemistry, and from the University of California, San Francisco with a Ph.D. degree in pharmaceutical chemistry, where he studied with George Kenyon. He was John G. Searle Professor of Medicinal Chemistry in the College of Pharmacy and Professor of Biological Chemistry at University of Michigan. In 2001, he moved to the University of California, Berkeley to assume roles as Aldo DeBenedictis Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and served as the chair of the Department of Chemistry from 2005 until 2010. He was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
On February 20, 2011, it was announced that Marletta would lead the The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, succeeding Richard Lerner. He joined the Institute's faculty in July 2011, and took over the role of President and CEO on January 1, 2012. He also holds the title of Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Chair in Chemistry.
- 2006 National Academy of Sciences 
- 2004 Harrison Howe Awardee 
- 1999 Institute of Medicine 
- 1995 MacArthur Fellows Program
- "Nitric-Oxide Synthase Assays", Oxygen radicals in biological systems, Editor Lester Packer, Elsevier, 1994, ISBN 978-0-12-182134-0
- "Biochemistry of Soluble Guanulate Cyclase", CGMP: Generators, Effectors and Therapeutic Implications, Editors Harald H. H. W. Schmidt, Franz Hofmann, Johannes-Peter Stasch, Springer, 2009, ISBN 978-3-540-68960-7
- The Eureka! Moment-scientific discovery is NOT sudden. Ns.umich.edu. Retrieved on 2013-10-08.
- Michael A. Marletta. chem.berkeley.edu
- Investigator (Alumni) Michael A. Marletta, Ph.D. | Howard Hughes Medical Institute. HHMI. Retrieved on 2013-10-08.
- The Scripps Research Institute Names Michael A. Marletta as President. Scripps.edu (2011-02-20).
- Faculty Page. Scripps.edu (2013-09-11).
- Research News: Three Berkeley Lab Scientists Elected To National Academy of Sciences. Lbl.gov (2006-04-25). Retrieved on 2013-10-08.
- The Harrison Howe Award – Michael Marletta. Chem.rochester.edu (2005-02-24). Retrieved on 2013-10-08.
- Michael Marletta – Institute of Medicine. Iom.edu (2013-09-19). Retrieved on 2013-10-08.
- Michael A. Marletta", Scientific Commons
- The Marletta lab website at The Scripps Research Institute