Dr. Pilar Martinez
Dr. Pilar Martinez is Associate Professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Division Neuroscience at the School for Mental Health and Neuroscience at Maastricht University. She is the PI of several European grants examining autoimmunity and neuroinflammation with special focus in neurodegenerative diseases and its relationship with the sphingolipid metabolism.
She started her scientific career during her undergraduate studies. In 1996 she worked as a trainee at the Department of Evolution Genetics in the University of Valencia, Spain. In 1997 she was awarded two fellowships from the Cytological Research Institute (FVIB) of Valencia, Spain and from the “Generalitat Valenciana” (county government Valencia) to study a PhD at the Department of Molecular Pathology in FVIB. During this period she was granted a scientist-personnel training fellowship supported by the Spanish government for research at the Sackler School of Medicine at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. During the last year of my PhD she was awarded a 1 year Marie Curie fellowship from the European Graduate School of Neuroscience (EURON), Maastricht University, the Netherlands.
In December 2003 she received a Cum Laude PhD title at the University of Valencia and started working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Neuroscience, School of Mental Health and Neuroscience, University of Maastricht, the Netherlands. During these years she has received national and international competitive funding and started the research group Nervous System Neuroinflammation and Autoimmunity.
Dr. Martinez’ contribution to science focuses partly on the ceramide tranporter protein (CERT), [the only protein with the ability to transfer ceramide to membranes and to transport it] that is present in amyloid plaques of Alzheimer’s disease brain tissue. CERT interacts with both amyloid beta and serum amyloid P component. Additionally her research group identified this protein as a receptor for C1q in the surface of damaged cells. The interaction CERT-C1q was shown to lead to activation of the classical complement pathway. Additionally, they have demonstrated in rats that fetal asphyxia at birth induces persistent changes in the ceramide metabolism in the adult brain. Furthermore, she is involved in research projects focused on the understanding of neuroinflammation in neurodegenerative diseases. These projects range from innate immunity to inflammation and lipid metabolism in central nervous system neurodegenerative diseases.