A global influencer on the gut

The innovative gut serotonin research of Dr Alyce Martin (BMedSc ’11, BSc(Hons) ’12, PhD(Med) ’18) rides at the forefront of global influence in the fast-expanding field of understanding our gut – which could provide the key to myriad of health dilemmas.

Studying the role of serotonin-producing cells as sensory cells in the gut, Dr Martin completed her PhD in December 2018 at Flinders University. Now working in Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health and Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute (FHMRI), Dr Martin has authored 24 publications on gut hormones and serotonin that have garnered more than 745 citations. She is ranked the second leading exert in the world among published authors on Enterochromaffin Cell biology.

“The cells in our gut that make serotonin are such a vital cell type that we still know so little about, yet gut serotonin does so many things within our body, such as maintaining a healthy gut and driving our metabolism,” says Dr Martin.

“It’s why I’ve found gut physiology and gut hormone production so fascinating, because the gut is such an essential organ and its proper function is crucial in our lives, yet we still don’t fully know how it works.

“This area of medical research is so fast-paced that we must be connected globally and respond swiftly to developments – and it’s a thrill that our team at Flinders University rides right at the forefront of international gut research.”

Dr Martin is excited that the global reach of her research is leading to further international collaborations with leading researchers – and she realises that such success is rare for a young researcher. It has prompted her to play a leadership role in helping to guide other young researchers.

During 2021, Dr Martin helped create the Early and Mid-Career Academic Community of Practice (EMCA CoP) at Flinders, a support organisation to help researchers grasp opportunities through providing a critical bridge between the University’s leadership teams. It has developed workshops and training programs, at the Bedford Park campus and rural and remote locations, enabling aspiring researchers to share their work and build professional networks.

To help these emerging scientists pursue their own independent research, Dr Martin has developed a funding scheme in partnership with the Flinders Foundation, to supporting research, training schemes and career developments. She has led by example, helping to raise donations through multiple fundraisers.

“It’s never been a more difficult time for researchers to obtain funding and enjoy ongoing security for their work, so being able to help create this strong community support is one of my achievements that I’m most proud of.”

Dr Alyce Martin received a 2021 Early Career Alumni Award for her significant contribution in the field of gastrointestinal physiology, including support and advocacy to her professional community. Read more on the Flinders University Alumni Awards

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