Martin Chalfie, PhD

Martin Chalfie, PhD
William R. Kenan Jr., Professor of Biological Sciences; Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, New York

Martin Chalfie, PhD | Class of 2013

A seminar Paul Brehm gave in 1989 on bioluminescent organisms led Dr. Chalfie to experiments in 1992, which he reported in an article on green fluorescent proteins (GFP) that became one of the 20 most-cited papers in the field of molecular biology and genetics. The work led to Dr. Chalfie’s 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Green fluorescent protein has become a fundamental tool of cell biology, developmental biology, genetics, and neurobiology. It is also the basis of many applications in industry. Researchers from around the world have introduced modifications that include generation of different color variants; production of pH, photoactivatable, and voltage-sensitive variants; and generation of molecules that respond to calcium and changes in phosphorylation.

Dr. Chalfie uses the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to investigate nerve cell development and function, concentrating primarily on genes active in mechanosensory neurons. His research has been directed toward answering two quite different biological questions: How do different types of nerve cells acquire and maintain their unique characteristics and how do sensory cells respond to mechanical signals?

Career Highlights

2012 President-elect, Society for Developmental Biology
2012 Golden Goose Award
2011 Doctor of Science (hon.), Ilan National University, Taiwan
2011 Doctor of Science (hon.), Niagara University
2010 Distinguished Scientist Award, American Heart Association
2009 Elected Member, Institute of Medicine
2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
2008 E. B. Wilson Medal, American Society for Cell Biology
2007 Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
2007-2010 Chair, Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University
2006 Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Science, Brandeis University
2004 Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC
2003 Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
1976 PhD, Harvard University