Martin Martin, M.D.

Martín Martín, M.D. 

Professor and Associate Vice Chair for Translational Research, Pediatrics; Co-Director, UCLA Center for Pediatric Diarrheal Diseases

Bio

Martín Martín, M.D., is a clinician-scientist who treats pediatric patients with gastrointestinal failure that results in the inability to absorb nutrients from foods and liquids. His scientific research focuses on the mechanisms involved in severe pediatric gastrointestinal conditions.

Until recently, genetic intestinal conditions were difficult to diagnose. With new technologies such as exome sequencing, physicians can now determine the genetic mutation(s) causing a condition much more quickly. Martín aims to utilize this detailed genetic information and the enhanced understanding it brings to develop therapies that treat these conditions using stem cells and gene editing technologies.

Many of the patients Martín treats are born with intestinal conditions that result in reliance on intravenous feeding their entire lives. Certain treatments can extend life, but quality of life is significantly impacted, and the available treatment options can become very expensive over patients’ lifespans. An intestinal transplant from a donor is an option for children with intestinal failure, but the intestines’ high immune response dramatically increases the risk of transplant rejection. Patients receiving a donor intestine must take very high doses of drugs that suppress the immune system to prevent rejection, which puts them at risk for infections and other serious diseases.

Martín aims to overcome the current challenges associated with treating intestinal conditions by developing cell-based therapies that use a patient’s own genetically modified cells to repair the intestine. Martín’s lab has created intestinal organoids using induced pluripotent stem cells produced from the tissue of patients with intestinal conditions. He’s using these organoids to better understand the nature of severe intestinal conditions, test gene therapy strategies that use CRISPR/Cas9 to correct mutations and screen drug candidates that may treat these conditions.

Martín hopes the methods he’s developing will inform the creation of treatments for more common digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome, constipation associated with diabetic nerve damage and graft-versus-host-disease (a serious complication sometimes associated with bone marrow transplants).

Martín earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and completed his fellowship, internship and residency at UCLA Medical Center.

Publications

Honors & Affiliations

Affiliations

  • Executive Steering Committee, National Institutes of Health Intestinal Stem Cell Consortium

Funding

Martín’s research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Today’s & Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and a UCLA Nano-Pediatrics Seed Grant.

Videos

Treating patients with gastrointestinal failure
Martín Martín’s research goal is to improve treatment options for patients with gastrointestinal failure. In this video, he discusses how his lab is developing stem-cell based approaches to treat the most common inherited form of intestinal failure.