Immunity Studies Cross Scientific and Continental Borders

Natalia Martin, Ph.D., a 2012 Pew Latin American fellow, is working to understand how the nervous and immune systems influence each other when organisms respond to infection. As a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University, she studies the worm Caenorhabditis elegans, or C. elegans, and the behavior of its nerve cells in innate immunity, the body's first nonspecific line of defense against invading pathogens. Her long-term goal is to apply her research to the more complicated human immune system and identify a mechanism that could be used for the therapeutic targeting of infectious diseases.

Martin came to the United States in 2012 to work in the laboratory of a fellow Argentinian, Duke associate professor Alejandro Aballay, Ph.D., who was named a Pew Latin American fellow in 1998. After gaining expertise in microbiology, molecular biology, genetics, and biochemistry, she is making her first venture into neuroimmunology. When she completes her postdoctoral fellowship, she intends to return to Argentina to establish a research laboratory.

Quick facts on Natalia Martin

  • Named a Pew Latin American fellow in 2012.
  • Postdoctoral fellow in the Duke University laboratory of Alejandro Aballay, a 1998 Latin American fellow.
  • Investigates how the nervous and immune systems in the worm C. elegans cooperate to eradicate bacterial infections.
  • Researched interactions of fats and proteins within bacteria for the National Research Council of Argentina.
  • Received undergraduate and doctoral degrees in microbiology from the University of Rosario in Argentina.
  • Native of Argentina.