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Martin Tenniswood, Ph.D.

Martin Tenniswood was born in Uganda, and lived in England, Newfoundland, Rhodesia, Scotland and Ontario before he finished high school. He received his BSc (Hons) degree in Chemistry in 1973 from Trent University in Peterborough Ontario Canada, and his PhD degree in Biochemistry from Queen´s University in Kingston, Ontario Canada in 1978. His dissertation, mentored by Professor Albert Clark, focused on the hormonal responsiveness of acid phosphatase in the rat ventral prostate.

After spending a year as a clinical post-doctoral fellow in Endocrinology at the Medical School at Queen´s University, Dr. Tenniswood moved to the National Institute of Medical Research in Mill Hill, London, England, supported by a Medical Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship. He worked with Professor Jamshed Tata FRS on the molecular biology of estrogen dependent gene expression, focusing on the regulation of albumin and vitellogenin gene expression in Xenopus laevis.

In 1983 Dr. Tenniswood returned to Canada to establish his independent research laboratory in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Ottawa, supported by a Medical Research Council of Canada Scholarship. Using the recombinant technologies he had learned in England, he focused his research on the regulation of gene expression in the prostate, and he was the first to identify a series of genes that are transcriptionally repressed in the prostate by androgens. He also showed that these genes are part of the program of expression changes that lead to cell death in the prostate after castration. In collaboration with other groups, he established that many of these genes are commonly expressed in a number of other pathological conditions, including retinal degeneration and metamorphosis. During this time he also demonstrated that the genetic mechanisms involved in apoptosis were also triggered by anti-estrogens in breast cancer and vitamin D3, which has led to a long standing interest in the effects of diet on chemoprevention and treatment of early stage breast and prostate cancer.

After eleven years at the University of Ottawa, Martin moved to the W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center in Lake Placid NY as the Head of the Molecular Biology Core Facilities. Unfortunately after 4 years, the closure of the Center forced him to leave the Adirondack Mountains and move to the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, where he assumed the position of Coleman Chair of Life Sciences in the Department of Biological Sciences. While at Notre Dame, he continued his research focused on breast and prostate cancer. He also served as a scientific advisor for a small Biotechnology company called Errant Gene Therapeutics (EGT) which is developing a new class of small molecules for the treatment of breast and prostate cancer.

In 2008, Dr. Tenniswood moved back to New York State as an Empire Innovations Professor at the Cancer Research Center in the School of Public Health University at Albany. He became Director of the Center in March, 2009. He and his team have continued his research themes at the Center, and have highlighted the importance of vitamin D in slowing or halting the progression of prostate cancer. He is also completing the pre-clinical studies of one of the small molecules he has been developing with EGT for the treatment of inflammatory breast cancer.

Dr. Tenniswood´s research has been continually funded since 1983 by a variety of agencies including the National Institutes of Health, the Canadian Medical Research Council, La Société de Recherche sur le Cancer, the Human Frontier Science Program, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs in Breast and Prostate Cancer. He has published more than 125 peer-reviewed papers and chapters and has also served on many study sections for each of the agencies listed above.

Since establishing his own laboratory in 1983, he has mentored 25 graduate students and 14 post-doctoral fellows. He has taught extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate level, including Freshman Biology and upper level Cell Biology and Developmental Biology for ten years in the Department of Biological Sciences at University of Notre Dame. He has spent many years trying to effectively bridge the divide between graduate and undergraduate education and research to provide undergraduates the opportunity to participate in basic research as part of their education, and to develop effective interdisciplinary research in the area of human health sciences. He is currently teaching HBMS 505-the Biological Basis of Public Health, in the MPH program.