Dr. Alex A. Martinez

Assistant Professor

Dr. Alex Martinez joined the Department of Biology in 2017. He is originally from San Elizario, Texas and likes to spend time with his wife, Natalina, and 3 kids, Arianna, Noah, and Annika.

Contact Information

  • Education

    • Ph.D. Biomedical Science, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) Biomedical Science – Department of Pharmacology (2014), San Antonio, Texas
    • Thesis Title: "Cannabinoid and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors as anti-dyskinetic targets"
      • Thesis Advisor: Andrea Giuffrida, Ph.D.
    • B.A. Biology, St. Mary’s University (2004), San Antonio, Texas
  • Work

    • Assistant Professor (Tenure-Track), University of the Incarnate Word (2017-Present), San Antonio, TX
    • Visiting Assistant Professor, Trinity University (2013 - 2017), San Antonio, TX
    • Adjunct Professor, St. Mary’s University (2012 - 2013), San Antonio, TX
    • Guest Lecturer, Dental Hygiene Pharmacotherapeutics Course, UTHSCSA (2010), San Antonio,TX
    • Part-time Instructor, Trinity University (2009), San Antonio, Texas.
    • Guest Lecturer, Dental Hygiene Pharmacotherapeutics Course, UTHSCSA (2009), San Antonio, TX

    Research Experience

    • Postdoctoral Fellow, UTHSCSA (2014- Present), San Antonio, TX
    • Research Assistant, UTHSCSA (2004 - 2007), Laboratory of Dr. J. Roberts/Dr. A. Giuffrida, San Antonio, TX

    Mentoring Experience

    • Carla Carmona, Voelcker Academy Scholar, Robert E. Lee High School (2015- 2017), San Antonio, TX
    • Jessica Briscoe, MBRS-RISE Program, University of Texas at San Antonio (2011 - 2012), San Antonio, TX
    • Michelle Yuan, Summer Research Intern, Bard College (2010), Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
  • Courses Taught

    • BIOL 1402 General Biology I for Major and Laboratory
    • BIOL 3202 Research Methods in Cell and Molecular Genetics
    • BIOL 4399 ST Readings in Neurophysiology
  • Service, Awards and Professional Memberships

    Service

    • Coach/Volunteer, Catholic Youth Organization, Archdiocese of San Antonio (2018 - Present), San Antonio TX
    • Faculty Sponsor, UIW SACNAS Chapter, SACNAS Local Conference Committee (2018 - Present), San Antonio, TX
    • Word in Action, UIW Day of Service, Time Dollar Community Connections (2018), San Antonio, TX
    • 8th Annual CORE4STEM Family Day, Exhibit Presenter, San Antonio College (2017), San Antonio, TX

    Awards

    • 2013 - Best Oral Presentation, 2013 Annual Terry Mikiten GSA Research Forum, UTHSCSA
    • 2011 - Pharmacology Student of the Year, UTHSCSA
    • 2010 - Third place poster, 2010 Annual Terry Mikiten GSA Research Forum, UTHSCSA
    • 2010 - Pharmacology Graduate Student Symposium Chairman, UTHSCSA
    • 2009 - Pharmacology Graduate Student Symposium Co-Chairman, UTHSCS
    • 2008 - Pharmacology Graduate Student Symposium Committee, UTHSCSA
    • 2000-2004 - Presidential Scholarship, St. Mary's University, San Antonio, Texas

    Society Memberships

    • Society for Neuroscience (SFN) (2007-Present)
    • Center for Biomedical Neuroscience, UT Health San Antonio (2007-Present)
    • Student member of the San Antonio Chapter of the SFN (2007-2012)
    • Student member of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society (IBNS)(2010)
  • Research Interest

    The Martinez laboratory investigates novel targets in attenuating the unwanted side-effect in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD) known as L-DOPA induced dyskinesia (LID). Using a validated rat model of Parkinson’s disease, we are able mimic symptoms similar to LID and test various pharmacological compounds on whether they are able to decrease LID without affecting the therapeutic benefits of L-DOPA. Targets of interest that we investigate in decreasing LID include the endocannabinoid and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor systems. Using the same validated rat model of PD, we are also investigating the relationship between traumatic brain injury and the development/progression of PD.

    Previous Research Funding

    F31NS073411-03, NIH/NINDS, 01/2011-12/2013

    Ruth L. Kirschestein National Research Service Award Individual Fellowship

    Project Title: Validation of PPARgamma Agonists as Anti-Dyskinetic Drugs
    Role: PI Description: Despite L-DOPA initial beneficial effects in treating Parkinson’s disease, its prolonged use results in the development of abnormal involuntary movements known as dyskinesia. Recent evidence suggests that activation of the nuclear receptor, PPARgamma, ameliorates these unwanted side effects once they are fully established. This proposal investigated whether co-administration of L-DOPA and a PPARgamma agonist (rosiglitazone) prevents the development of dyskinesias in a rodent model of Parkinson’s disease.

  • Selected Publications and Presentations

    Presentations

    • Drug Discovery in South Texas: Tapping into the Natural World for Solutions. Symposium Chair. SACNAS National Conference, San Antonio, TX. October 13, 2018
    • Parkinson’s Disease and L-DOPA-Induced Dyskinesia. Trinity University Biology Department Seminar Series. Trinity University, San Antonio, TX. February 9, 2015.
    • Martinez AA, Pisanu A, Carta AR and Giuffrida A. Activation of PPAR gamma receptors reduces levodopa-induced dyskinesia without affecting L-DOPA and dopamine bioavailability in 6-OHDA-treated rats. (Slide Presentation) Society for Neuroscience: 638.07, 2011.
    • Tackling the debilitating side effects of Parkinson’s Disease treatment: What can we learn from a rat model? The Jose Miguel Cimadevilla Memorial Seminar Series. Mary’s University, San Antonio, TX. October 29, 2010.

    Book Chapters

    • Giuffrida A and Martinez AA. The Endocannabinoid System and Parkinson’s Disease. In: The Endocannabinoid System: Genetics, Biochemistry, Brain Disorders, and Therapy. (E. Murillo-Rodriguez, ed). Elsevier, Pp 63-81 (2017).
    • Giuffrida A and Martinez AA. Cannabinoids and levodopa-induced dyskinesia. In: Levodopa-induced Dyskinesia in Parkinson’s Disease (S. Fox, J. Brotchie, eds.). Springer, Pp 245-264 (2014).

    Publications

    • Martinez AA, Morgese MG, Pisanu A, Macheda T, Paquette MA, Seillier A, Cassano T, Carta AR and Giuffrida A. Activation of PPAR gamma receptors alleviates levodopa-induced dyskinesia in 6-OHDA-treated rats. Neurobiol Dis. 74(C):295-304 (2015). PMID: 2586547
    • Seillier A, Martinez AA and Giuffrida A. Social withdrawal in Schizophrenia: lack of endocannabinoid-induced CB1 stimulation. Neuropsychopharmacology 38(9):1816-1824 (2013). PMID: 23563893
    • Cheng B, Martinez AA, Morado J, Scofield V, Roberts JL and Maffi SK. Retinoic acid protects against proteasome inhibition associated cell death in SH-SY5Y cells via the AKT pathway. Neurochem Int. 62(1):31-42 (2013). PMID: 23142153
    • Paquette MA, Martinez AA, Macheda T, Meshul CK, Johnson SW, Berger SP and Giuffrida A. Anti-dyskinetic mechanisms of amantadine and dextromethorphan in the 6-OHDA rat model of Parkinson’s disease: role of NMDA versus 5HT1A receptors. Eur J Neurosci. 36:3224-3234. (2012). PMID: 22861201
    • Martinez A, Macheda T, Morgese MG, Trabace L and Giuffrida A. The cannabinoid agonist WIN55212-2 decreases L-DOPA-induced PKA activation and dyskinetic behavior in 6-OHDA-treated rats. Neurosci Res. 72:236-242. (2012). PMID: 2219246
    • Cheng B, Maffi SK, Martinez AA, Acosta YP, Morales LD and Roberts JL. Insulin-like growth factor-I mediates neuroprotection in proteasome inhibition-induced cytotoxicity in SH-SY5Y cells. Mol Cell Neurosci. 2011;47:181-190. (2011). PMID: 21545837
    • Price DA, Martinez AA, Seillier A, Koek W, Acosta Y, Fernandez E, Strong JR, Lutz B., Marsicano G, Roberts JL and Giuffrida A. WIN55,212, a cannabinoid receptor agonist, protects against nigrostriatal cell loss in the MPTP mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. Eur J Neurosci. 29:2177-2186. (2009). PMID: 19490092