Martha J. Grossel
Professor of Biology
Joined Connecticut College: 1999
B.S., Colorado State University
Ph.D., Tufts University School of Medicine
• Molecular biology • Cell biology • Cancer and the cell cycle • Cell cycle regulation
Martha J. Grossel was selected in 2006 as a “Woman of Innovation” in the field of research by the Committee of the Connecticut Technology Council. After her doctoral dissertation at Tufts Medical School, Professor Grossel was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School where she studied cancer and the cell cycle.
In early 2015 Professor Grossel awarded a grant of $412,470 from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Cancer Institute to continue cutting-edge cancer research.
In 2011, The National Cancer Institute awarded Professor Grossel a $419,375 grant to support her ovarian cancer research. Read the news release.
In 2007, Grossel was awarded a 3-year NIH AREA (Academic Research Enhancement Award) grant, "Mechanism of Differentiation Functions of Cyclin Dependent Kinase 6." Jennifer Crary, a postdoctoral fellow, has joined Grossel's research team in 2009 through a NIH supplemental grant. The "re-entry grant" supports scientists who left the field for family responsibilities and are re-entering science.
Grossel was also awarded a minority supplement to the NIH grant to support a student's (Claribel Marmol '10) research and travel to a scientific conference to present her work.
Grossel's research involves understanding what causes the unchecked cellular division that is associated with cancer. These studies aim to understand the molecular basis of cancer by understanding the checkpoints that normally control cell proliferation. The regulation of cell division is crucial to many biological and medical problems. Unregulated or improperly timed cell division can result in cancer, can cause developmental defects, and can affect the physiology of all cell types from plants to man.
Grossel encourages students to learn more about molecular biology by participating in one of the ongoing research projects in her laboratory.
Grossel's recent published papers and articles include:
- A non-scientific article, "Their Future in Your Hands: Inspiring Undergrads to Pursue Ph.Ds. Career Advice for Life Scientists." Grossel, MJ and Roecklein-Canfield, J. Volume III. American Society for Cell Biology. (2009)
- Distinct subcellular distribution of cyclin dependent kinase 6. In Cell Cycle 8:17 1-7. (2009) Kohrt, D.M., Crary, J.I., Gocheva, V., Hinds, P.W., Grossel, M.J. (Co-author Vasilena Gocheva was one of Grossel's students.)
- A book chapter: "Cdk6 develops as a factor in differentiation" (2008) in Trends in Cell Research 145-159. Grossel, M.J. and Hinds, PW. Editor Kenichi Yoshida.
- "Changes in motility, gene expression and actin dynamics: Cdk6-induced cytoskeletal changes associated with differentiation in mouse astrocytes" (2006) in Journal of Cellular Biochemistry by Peter Slomiany, Tom Baker, Emily Elliot and Martha Grossel.
- "From cell cycle to differentiation: an expanding role for Cdk6" (2006) In Cell Cycle by Martha Grossel and PW Hinds.
- "Beyond the cell cycle: a new role for Cdk6 in differentiation" (2006) In Cellular Biochemistry by Martha Grossel and PW Hinds.
Dr. Grossel's work was supported in part through a $465,000 five-year, National Science Foundation CAREER grant. The Faculty Early Career development (CAREER) program offers the NSF's most prestigious awards for new faculty, supporting activities of those faculty members who are most likely to become academic leaders of the 21st century.
She has recently published her findings on the effects of the cell cycle protein, cdk6, on differentiation of astrocytes in the journal Molecular Cancer Research. Two undergraduate students co-authored this publication in which they published results that were part of their senior honors theses. She has published her findings on the cell cycle protein, cdk6, in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. In addition, her work developing a new screening technology for protein-protein interactions was published in the journal Nature Biotechnology. Undergraduate students co-authored this paper including one who incorporated this work into his senior honors thesis. Dr. Grossel has collaborations with scientists at Harvard Medical School, and Pfizer Inc.
In other projects, Dr. Grossel completed a CD-ROM, "Modules in Emerging Fields, Volume 4: Genomics and Proteomics." A teaching module designed to allow instructors and professors to incorporate genomics and proteomics into a wide variety of courses, its development was supported by W. M. Keck-Howard Hughes Medical Institute Visiting Fellows program. This work was reviewed by the journal Cell Biology Education (September 2003).
Grossel also contributed to an article on science communication in the journal "Public Understanding of Science." Written in collaboration with Michael Reder from the Johnson Seminar of the Connecticut College Center for Teaching & Learning and the English department, the article's primary author was Eunice Kua '02, who won the College's Oakes and Louise Ames prize for the best honors thesis. The article is a revised version of a chapter from that thesis.
Grossel teaches Molecular Biology, The Molecular Basis of Cancer, and Microbiology. Her goal is to incorporate research into the laboratory sections of the Molecular Biology and Microbiology courses. This will allow students to combine the excitement of discovery with classroom learning. She published the results of a study of this approach to learning in Cell Biology Education.
In the fall of 2006 she taught a new freshman seminar class, "Plagues and Bioterrorism." It looked at both naturally occuring germs (HIV, bird flu, etc.) and potential bioterror germs (smallpox, engineered bacteria or viruses).
While on sabbatical in the spring of 2006, Grossel taught a new course, "Frontiers in Molecular Biology." It examined emerging areas of molecular biology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. As part of the course students travelled to Seattle, Wash., to visit the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Institute for Systems Biology. This course was developed in collaboration with Deb Eastman and Pfizer scientists.
"My goal is to combine my extensive research background with my love of teaching to allow students to experience the excitement of scientific research while learning the important scientific processes." - Martha J. Grossel