Martin Chalfie is a University Professor and former chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University. In 2008 he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Osamu Shimomura and Roger Y. Tsien for his introduction of Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) as a biological marker.
Dr. Chalfie was born in Chicago, Illinois, obtained both his A.B. and Ph.D. from Harvard University, and then did postdoctoral research with Sydney Brenner at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, England. He joined the faculty of Columbia University as an Assistant Professor in 1982 and has been there ever since.
He uses the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to investigate nerve cell development and function, concentrating primarily on genes affecting mechanosensory neurons. His research has been directed toward answering two quite different biological questions: How do different types of nerve cells acquire and maintain their unique characteristics? and How do sensory cells respond to mechanical signals?
Dr. Chalfie is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He shared the 2006 Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Science from Brandeis University and the 2008 E. B. Wilson Medal from the American Society for Cell Biology with Roger Tsien. He is currently the president of the Society for Developmental Biology.