Faculty and Staff Biography

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Martha Bhattacharya

Assistant Professor, Biology
Department of Basic Sciences


A.B. Harvard College

Ph.D. University of California, San Francisco



Cell Biology

Developmental Biology


Current Research

Nerves are particularly sensitive to toxicities caused by components of cancer-treating drug cocktails, in particular paclitaxel (taxol) and vincristine. These agents target microtubules in all human cells and, in doing so, disrupt the transport of critical proteins in the axons of neurons, causing these axons to initiate a self-destruction program. Clinically, treatment with vincristine and paclitaxel causes numbness and pain, and this dysfunction can be permanent.My research investigates the molecular pathways triggered by axon injury that result in axon degeneration. We use both fruit flies and cultured mouse neurons, and we collaborate with multiple labs on the Wash U medical campus. We hope to identify steps in the axon degeneration pathway that may be amenable to therapeutic intervention, in particular during a patients’ chemotherapy regimen.