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Keri Martinowich, Ph.D., is a Senior Investigator and Director of Translational Neuroscience at the Lieber Institute for Brain Development and an Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Martinowich received a B.A. in International Relations from the George Washington University and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  Her early scientific career centered on understanding the complex regulation of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene, and its contribution to brain function and plasticity. Her graduate thesis work pioneered studies to assess activity-dependent epigenetic regulation, identifying BDNF as the first brain target of the signaling molecule MeCP2. Following her graduate thesis work, she conducted translational research in neuropsychiatry as a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). As a postdoctoral fellow she integrated her interests in BDNF with a systems neuroscience approach, and focused on elucidating the impact of neurotrophin signaling in circuits that control behavior. She joined the Lieber Institute for Brain Development (LIBD) in 2012 – early work in her laboratory continued this line of research to demonstrate that “BDNF-related phenotypes” (e.g. aggression; obesity; fear extinction; reversal learning; and stress/depression susceptibility) segregate with loss of expression from distinct promoters and the cell types in which they are expressed. Dr. Martinowich currently directs a research program that takes a cross-species, intersectional approach to study how programs of gene expression and neural activity in defined populations of neurons contribute to circuit function and control of behaviors that are relevant for neuropsychiatric disorders.

Selected Publications

Selected Publications

Google Scholar:

Martinowich K, Hattori D, Wu H, Fouse S, He F, Hu Y, Fan G, Sun YE “DNA methylation-related chromatin remodeling in activity-dependent BDNF gene regulation”, Science, 302(5646), 890-893, 2003.

Maynard KR, Hill JL, Calcaterra NE, Palko ME, Kardian A, Paredes D, Sukumar M, Adler BD, Jimenez DV, Schloesser RJ, Tessarollo L, Lu B, Martinowich K “Functional role of BDNF production from unique promoters in aggression and serotonin signaling”, Neuropsychopharmacology, 41(8) 1943-55, 2016.

Maynard KR, Hobbs JW, Phan BN, Gupta A, Rajpurohit S, Williams C, Rajpurohit N, Shin J, Jaffe AE, Martinowich K. “BDNF-TrkB signaling in oxytocin neurons contributes to maternal behavior”, ELife, Sep 7;7, 2018.

Hallock HL, Quillian HM, Mai Y, Maynard KR, Hill JL, Martinowich K “Manipulation of a genetically and spatially defined population of BDNF-expressing neurons potentiates learned fear and decreases hippocampal-prefrontal synchrony in mice”, Neuropsychopharmacology, 44(13):2239-2246, 2019.

Maynard K, Tippani M, Takahashi Y, Phan B, Hyde T, Jaffe AE, Martinowich K.  “dotdotdot: an automated approach to quantify multiplex single molecule fluorescent in situ hybridization (smFISH) images in complex tissues.” Nucleic Acids Research, 48(11):e66, 2020.

Hallock HL, Quillian HM, Maynard KR, Mai Y, Chen HY, Hamersky GR, Shin JH, Maher BJ, Jaffe AE, Martinowich K “Molecularly-Defined Hippocampal Inputs Regulate Populations Dynamics in the Prelimbic Cortex to Suppress Context Fear Memory Recall”, Biological Psychiatry, 88(7):554-565, 2020.

Maynard K, Collado-Torres L, Weber L, Utyingco C, Barry B, Williams S, Catallini J, Tran M, Besich Z, Tippani M, Chew J, Yin Y, Kleinman J, Hyde T, Rao N, Hicks Martinowich K+, Jaffe AE+. “Transcriptome-scale spatial gene expression in the human dorsolateral prefrontal cortex,” Nature Neuroscience, 2021. +co-corresponding author

Tran MN, Maynard KR, Spangler A, Collado-Torres L, Sadashivaiah V, Tippani M, Barry BK, Hancock DB, Hicks SC, Kleinman JE, Hyde TM, Martinowich K+, Jaffe AE+, “Single-nucleus transcriptome analysis reveals cell type-specific molecular signatures across reward circuitry in the human brain”, Neuron, 2021. +co-corresponding author



Dr. Martinowich’s research program focuses on understanding molecular and genetic mechanisms that contribute to risk for neuropsychiatric disorders with the goal of informing development of novel treatments. The lab uses genetic manipulation and viral transgenesis in combination with molecular, cellular and systems-level techniques in animal models of behavior and circuit function, and integrate these data with cell-type specific and spatial transcriptomic studies in the postmortem human brain.

Team Members

Team Members

Want to join our team? We’re hiring for:

Research Associate

Team Members:

Svitlana Bach, Staff Scientist I

Lionel Rodriguez, Graduate Student (Neuroscience)

Matt N. Tran, Research Associate

Suhaas Adiraju, Research Assistant

Jorge Miranda-Barrientos, Staff Scientist II

Lina Oh, Research Associate

Aaron Salisbury, Graduate Student (Neuroscience)

Sang Ho Kwon, Graduate Student (BCMB)

Erik Nelson, Graduate Student (CMM)

Anthony Ramnauth, Graduate Student (Neuroscience)


Staff Scientist I–Data Science

Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum Vitae

Download a copy of my CV here.