Jennifer L. Martin

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Jenny Martin
Professor Jenny Martin.jpg
Professor Jenny Martin is Director of the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery (GRIDD) at Griffith University.
Nationality Australian
Alma mater Victorian College of Pharmacy
(B Pharm, M Pharm)
Oxford University (PhD)
London Business School
Scientific career
Institutions Victorian College of Pharmacy
University of Oxford
Bond University
Rockefeller University
University of Queensland
Griffith University
Doctoral advisor Peter Goodford
Louise Johnson
Jenny Martin in IMB UQ lab

Jennifer Louise "Jenny" Martin, AC is an Australian scientist, academic, and the Director of the Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery (formerly the Eskitis Institute)[1] at Griffith University.[2][3] She is a former Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, and her research expertise and interests lie in the areas of structural biology, protein crystallography, protein interactions and their applications in drug design and discovery.


Martin completed a Bachelor of Pharmacy at the Victorian College of Pharmacy in Melbourne from 1979–1981, receiving the Gold Medal for the best student in the B Pharm course. After spending a year as a trainee pharmacist, she completed a Masters in Pharmacy, supervised by Professor Peter Andrews, on the application of computational chemistry to opioid analgesics, which piqued her interest in research and led to her first scientific publications.[4][5] She then left Australia to undertake a PhD at the University of Oxford supported by a Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Science Research Scholarship and four other scholarships and bursaries. Under the guidance of Professors Peter Goodford and Louise Johnson, her PhD research used protein crystallography to design glycogen phosphorylase inhibitors as potential anti-diabetic compounds.[6][7] Martin paid tribute to the positive influence that Louise Johnson had on her career upon her death in 2012.[8] In 2015, Martin completed the London Business School four-week Senior Executive Programme[9] as part of a cohort of 50 industry, government, not-for-profit and academic leaders from around the world.

Scientific career[edit]

After completing her PhD she returned briefly to Australia to take up a post-doctoral position at Bond University in 1990. However, the unexpected closure of the School of Science and Technology resulted in her leaving Australia early in 1991 to take up a post-doctoral position with Professor John Kuriyan, a structural biologist, at Rockefeller University in New York to work on the disulfide bond forming family of proteins (DSBs) in Escherichia coli. She solved the structure of the DsbA protein which was published in 1993 in the high impact journal Nature.[10]

DsbA crystals growing in a drop of protein solution

In 1993 Martin received an ARC Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship. This enabled her to return to Australia and establish the first protein crystallography lab in Queensland, which is now known as the UQ Remote Operation Crystallisation and X-ray Diffraction (UQ ROCX) Facility, of which Martin is the Foundation Director.[11] She remained at the University of Queensland until 2015, supported by several other fellowships: an Australian Research Council (ARC) Senior Research Fellowship in 1999, and a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Research Fellowship in 2007. In 2009, Martin was one of just 15 researchers, and only two women, to receive an inaugural ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship.[12][13] In 2016, Martin was appointed Director of the Eskitis Drug Discovery Institute[1] at Griffith University, which hosts unique drug discovery resources including Compounds Australia[14] and NatureBank[15]

Crystal structure of DsbA – yellow spheres show the active site disulfide in the protein

Since returning to Australia and establishing her own research group, Martin has continued working on DSB proteins and is now developing inhibitors of these bacterial proteins as a potential means of combatting antibiotic resistance.[16][17] She also began working on other proteins including phenylethanolamine N-methyl transferase (PNMT), an enzyme that catalyses adrenaline synthesis. Martin published the structure of this enzyme[18] and later, as part of her ongoing research into different PNMT substrate-bound complexes, she became the first remote access user of the Australian Synchrotron.[19] Over the past 10 years, she has also contributed significantly to the structural biology of membrane fusion,[20][21][22] a fundamentally important process that underpins systems as diverse as neurotransmission and blood glucose control. She wrote an invited commentary for The Conversation in 2013 on this topic,[23] and was invited to present a keynote lecture on her membrane fusion research at the 23rd triennial International Union of Crystallography Congress held in Montreal in 2014.[24]

Honours and leadership roles[edit]

In addition to the research fellowships she has been awarded during her career, Martin has also received several honours in recognition of her professional contributions including:

  • 2005 Roche Medal, Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology[25][26]
  • 2005 Queensland Government Smart Women Smart State Award (Research Scientist Category)
  • 2006 Women in Biotech Outstanding Biotechnology Researcher Award
  • 2007 Dorothy Hodgkin Memorial Lecture, Oxford[27]
  • 2007 Honorary Life Membership, Questacon (National Science and Technology Centre), Canberra
  • 2010 Lady Masson Lecture, The University of Melbourne[28]
  • 2011 Women in Technology Outstanding Biotechnology Achievement[29]
  • 2015 Finalist, Newscorp QLD Pride of Australia Inspiration Category[30]
  • 2015 Finalist, NAB Women's Agenda, Mentor of the Year[31]
  • 2016, Finalist, Queensland Telstra Business Women of the Year, Public Sector and Academia[32]
  • 2017, Wunderly Oration and Medal, Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand
  • 2017, Elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science
  • 2017, Elected Eminent Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute
  • 2017, Inducted Bragg Member, Royal Institution of Australia
  • 2018 Made a Companion of the Order of Australia for "eminent service to science, and to scientific research, particularly in the field of biochemistry and protein crystallography applied to drug-resistant bacteria, as a role model, and as an advocate for gender equality in science"[33].

Martin has also held a number of leadership roles on national and international committees. She is a former chair of the National Committee for Crystallography of the Australian Academy of Science (2008–2011), a past President of the Society for Crystallographers in Australia and New Zealand (2003–2005) and a current member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Australian Synchrotron (2002–2009, 2015–), the President of the Asian Crystallography Association (2016–) and a member of the Executive Committee of the International Union of Crystallography (2017–).

Advocacy and science communication[edit]

In more recent years Martin has emerged as a strong advocate for equal opportunity and addressing gender imbalance in academia.[34] She published a letter in the prestigious journal Nature calling for scientific conference organisers to be more transparent with respect to their gender-balance policies and historical data.[35] This inspired Dr Kat Holt to develop a website, "Look Who's Talking",[36] that presents crowdsourced data on gender balance at scientific conferences held in Australia. Martin also writes a blog [37] which focuses on issues relating to women in academia, and she was a Foundation member of the steering committee for Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE)[38] which recently launched a pilot of the UK Athena SWAN charter to address the under-representation of women in science, particularly at senior positions in universities. As an opinion leader she has been invited to speak on gender equity worldwide, and across sectors. In 2017, she presented a keynote lecture on addressing conference gender equity at the Australia and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists[39] Annual Scientific Meeting, and presented the Wunderly oration at the Thoracic Society Australia and New Zealand[40] and Society of Respiratory Science[41] Annual Scientific Meeting. In 2018 she is invited to give the Inaugural Ruth Gall Memorial Lecture for the School of Chemistry at the University of Sydney on International Women's Day and the Chuwen Keynote Address at the 5th national meeting of the Australian Academy of Science EMCR Forum Science Pathways "Diversify your Thinking".

Martin also contributes to science communication initiatives to help a wider audience understand her scientific fields of interest. She has participated in events such as BrisScience,[42] which runs public lectures on science and technology; SCOM BOMB,[43] a Google hangout operated by the Australian Science Communicators, Science Rewired and the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science as part of the No Funny Business science communication website;[44] and the 2014 UNESCO International Year of Crystallography, including a radio interview[45] and public lecture.[46] She also writes articles for The Conversation,[47] an independent, online source of news and views from the academic and research community.

Personal life[edit]

Martin grew up in a large family of nine children in Dandenong, Victoria. She currently resides in Brisbane with her husband Michael.[48]


  1. ^ a b Eskitis Drug Discovery Institute
  2. ^ "Leading scientist to head Griffith's Eskitis Institute". Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  3. ^ "Prof Jenny Martin – Griffith University". Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  4. ^ Andrews, PR; Craik, DJ; Martin, JL. "Functional group contributions to drug-receptor interactions". J Med Chem. 27: 1648–57. doi:10.1021/jm00378a021. PMID 6094812. 
  5. ^ Martin, J; Andrews, P. "Conformation-activity relationships of opiate analgesics". J Comput Aided Mol Des. 1: 53–72. doi:10.1007/bf01680557. PMID 2905731. 
  6. ^ Martin, JL; Johnson, LN; Withers, SG. "Comparison of the binding of glucose and glucose 1-phosphate derivatives to T-state glycogen phosphorylase b". Biochemistry. 29: 10745–57. doi:10.1021/bi00500a005. PMID 2125493. 
  7. ^ Martin, JL; Veluraja, K; Ross, K; Johnson, LN; Fleet, GW; Ramsden, NG; Bruce, I; Orchard, MG; Oikonomakos, NG; Papageorgiou, AC. "Glucose analogue inhibitors of glycogen phosphorylase: the design of potential drugs for diabetes". Biochemistry. 30: 10101–16. doi:10.1021/bi00106a006. PMID 1931942. 
  8. ^ Obituary for Professor Dame Louise Johnson: a personal perspective from a former student
  9. ^ Senior Executive Programme
  10. ^ Martin, JL; Bardwell, JC; Kuriyan, J. "Crystal structure of the DsbA protein required for disulphide bond formation in vivo". Nature. 365: 464–8. doi:10.1038/365464a0. PMID 8413591. 
  11. ^ UQ Remote Operation Crystallisation and X-ray Diffraction (UQ ROCX) Facility
  12. ^ UQ News: UQ awarded more than $5M in Australian Laureate Fellowships
  13. ^ Biographies of 2009 Australian Laureate Fellows Archived 5 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ Compounds Australia
  15. ^ NatureBank
  16. ^ Adams, Luke A.; Sharma, Pooja; Mohanty, Biswaranjan; Ilyichova, Olga V.; Mulcair, Mark D.; Williams, Martin L.; Gleeson, Ellen C.; Totsika, Makrina; Doak, Bradley C. (2015-02-09). "Application of fragment-based screening to the design of inhibitors of Escherichia coli DsbA". Angewandte Chemie (International Ed. in English). 54 (7): 2179–2184. doi:10.1002/anie.201410341. ISSN 1521-3773. PMID 25556635. 
  17. ^ Duprez, Wilko; Premkumar, Lakshmanane; Halili, Maria A.; Lindahl, Fredrik; Reid, Robert C.; Fairlie, David P.; Martin, Jennifer L. (2015-01-22). "Peptide inhibitors of the Escherichia coli DsbA oxidative machinery essential for bacterial virulence". Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 58 (2): 577–587. doi:10.1021/jm500955s. ISSN 1520-4804. PMID 25470204. 
  18. ^ Martin, JL; Begun, J; McLeish, MJ; Caine, JM; Grunewald, GL (Oct 2001). "Getting the adrenaline going: crystal structure of the adrenaline-synthesizing enzyme PNMT". Structure. 9: 977–85. doi:10.1016/s0969-2126(01)00662-1. PMID 11591352. 
  19. ^ Lightspeed – Australian Synchrotron News: More than remotely interesting
  20. ^ Hu, SH; Latham, CF; Gee, CL; James, DE; Martin, JL. "Structure of the Munc18c/Syntaxin4 N-peptide complex defines universal features of the N-peptide binding mode of Sec1/Munc18 proteins". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 104: 8773–8. doi:10.1073/pnas.0701124104. PMC 1885578Freely accessible. PMID 17517664. 
  21. ^ Hu, SH; Christie, MP; Saez, NJ; Latham, CF; Jarrott, R; Lua, LH; Collins, BM; Martin, JL. "Possible roles for Munc18-1 domain 3a and Syntaxin1 N-peptide and C-terminal anchor in SNARE complex formation". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 108: 1040–5. doi:10.1073/pnas.0914906108. PMC 3024693Freely accessible. PMID 21193638. 
  22. ^ Christie, MP; Whitten, AE; King, GJ; Hu, SH; Jarrott, RJ; Chen, KE; Duff, AP; Callow, P; Collins, BM; James, DE; Martin, JL. "Low-resolution solution structures of Munc18:Syntaxin protein complexes indicate an open binding mode driven by the Syntaxin N-peptide". Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 109: 9816–21. doi:10.1073/pnas.1116975109. PMC 3382502Freely accessible. PMID 22670057. 
  23. ^ Bread, beer and botox: the science behind the 2013 Nobel Prize for medicine, The Conversation, 8 October 2013
  24. ^ IUCr 2014 Keynote Lecture – The mystery of membrane fusion: structural biology of Munc18 proteins; 10 August 2014; Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  25. ^ ASBMB website: The 2005 Roche Medal
  26. ^ IMB News: Top Award to IMB Researcher
  27. ^ 9th Dorothy Hodgkin Memorial Lecture: Professor Jenny Martin, The name's Bond.....Disulphide Bond, University Museum, Oxford, 6 March 2007
  28. ^ Lady Masson Lecture 2010 at the University of Melbourne
  29. ^ IMB News: Researchers shine at Women in Technology Awards
  30. ^ "Tireless science campaigner in line for medal". UQ News. Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  31. ^ "Mentor recognised in national leadership awards – Institute for Molecular Bioscience – The University of Queensland, Australia". Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  32. ^ "Queensland women lending a hand to help others succeed – Telstra Business Women's Awards". Telstra Business Women’s Awards. Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  33. ^ "Australia Day Honours 2018: The full list". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2018-01-26. Retrieved 2018-01-25. 
  34. ^ "Ending the Silent Brain Drain: Professor Jenny Martin on Supporting Women in Science". Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE). 2016-02-03. Retrieved 2016-10-23. 
  35. ^ Martin JL, Sexism: Conferences should seek a balance, Nature (2014) 493:305
  36. ^ Look Who's Talking website: Gender balance in scientific conferences (Australia)
  37. ^ cubistcrystal: Jenny Martin's blog
  38. ^ Australian Academy of Science: SAGE Forum
  39. ^ Australia and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists
  40. ^ Thoracic Society Australia and New Zealand
  41. ^ Society of Respiratory Science
  42. ^ BrisScience: UQ Research Week 2013 "How are new medicines discovered?"
  43. ^ SCOM BOMB – Jenny Martin, Crystallographer
  44. ^ No Funny Business science communication website
  45. ^ 612 ABC Brisbane: 2014 is International Year of Crystallography
  46. ^ University of Melbourne, Faculty of Science: International Year of Crystallography 2014
  47. ^ Jenny Martin – The Conversation
  48. ^ Royal Australian Chemical Chemical Institute – IYCr Lecture Series: Professor Jenny Martin – 27 Mar 2014

External links[edit]