Jeffrey R. Martens, PhD, joined the School of Medicine as the new Senior Associate Dean for Research on May 15, 2023. Professor Martens is a nationally and internationally lauded leader, researcher and educator who came to UVA from the University of Florida College of Medicine where he was a professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics for 8 years. We had a chance to sit down with Dr. Martens recently to get to know more about his career, goals, and life away from work.
Q. What drew you to the Senior Associate Dean for Research role at the University of Virginia School of Medicine?
A. The opportunity to assume a new leadership role at a prestigious public university that has a tremendous reputation for research excellence. This combined with the prospect of working for a new dean, Dean Kibbe, who has a commitment to research and a strategic plan that is aligned with the health system. All in a city as wonderful as Charlottesville was an opportunity that I could not pass up.
Q. What are some goals you would like to achieve during your time at UVA SOM?
A. I would like to see the Office of Research help to initiate, catalyze, and multiply research strategy across the School of Medicine. This includes growing the research faculty, expanding our infrastructure, and promoting research excellence.
Q. As a pharmacology researcher, what led you to this field of study and do you continue to do research in this field?
A. Pharmacology is a discipline that sits at the interface between basic mechanistic research and its translation to new therapies. The process of discovery, combined with the prospect of bringing hope to patients, excites me most about research. I remain very much committed to my research program and feel it is important to stay engaged in the activities that the Office of Research is promoting.
Q. What is the most exciting thing happening right now in research at the SOM?
A. I feel that it is a very exciting time for research at UVA School of Medicine. The UVA Paul and Diane Manning Institute for Biotechnology offers a transformational opportunity for UVA to expand its research footprint in new biological therapies. As well as to promote the public-private partnerships and entrepreneurial activities that can transform the School of Medicine, the University, and the local and state communities.
Q. What’s your favorite part of your job or what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
A. The favorite part of my job is the people. I work with an amazing team that is surrounded by outstanding scientists, clinicians, staff, and trainees. These people are the engine that drives discovery.
Q. What is one thing you wish your colleagues knew about you before they met you? Or what is one thing that may surprise people to learn about you?
A. I am a reflective thinker.
Q. If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
A. Embrace change and learn that obstacles make us stronger. We can control how we respond to challenges. Don’t let the obstacle guide you but rather inspire you to find an unexpected path.
Q. How do you spend your time away from work? Hobbies?
A. I am a huge fan of soccer. I embrace every aspect of the game. I have been the president of a youth soccer club. Both of my sons play the game, including my oldest son who plays for the University of Michigan.
Q. How would you describe yourself in one word?
Q. Who is your inspiration or hero?
A. I am inspired by everyday people who do small things to change the world.
Filed Under: Faculty