Martin Hetzer

Senior Vice President, Chief Science Officer
Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory
Jesse and Caryl Philips Foundation Chair

Martin Hetzer
Salk Institute for Biological Studies - Videos


How old are your organs? To scientists’ surprise, organs are a mix of young and old cells

LA JOLLA—Scientists once thought that neurons, or possibly heart cells, were the oldest cells in the body. Now, Salk Institute researchers have discovered that the mouse brain, liver and pancreas contain populations of cells and proteins with extremely long lifespans—some as old as neurons. The findings, demonstrating “age mosaicism,” were published in Cell Metabolism on June 6, 2019. The team’s methods could be applied to nearly any tissue in the body to provide valuable information about lifelong function of non-dividing cells and how cells lose control over the quality and integrity of proteins and important cell structures during aging. Read more »

Protein turnover could be clue to living longer

It may seem paradoxical, but studying what goes wrong in rare diseases can provide useful insights into normal health. Researchers probing the premature aging disorder Hutchinson-Gilford progeria have uncovered an errant protein process in the disease that could help healthy people as well as progeria sufferers live longer. Read more »

Salk researchers identify potential biomarker for cancer diagnosis

Scientists studying cancer development have known about micronuclei for some time. These erratic, small extra nuclei, which contain fragments or whole chromosomes that were not incorporated into daughter cells after cell division, are associated with specific forms of cancer and are predictive of poorer prognosis. Read more »

New insights into cell aging and neurodegenerative diseases

One of the big mysteries in biology is why cells age. Now scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies report that they have discovered a weakness in a component of brain cells that may explain how the aging process occurs in the brain.

The scientists discovered that certain proteins, called extremely long-lived proteins (ELLPs), which are found on the surface of the nucleus of neurons, have a remarkably long lifespan. Read more »


BS, University of Vienna
PhD, University of Vienna

Awards & Honors

  • Keck Foundation Research Award, 2015
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) Transformative Research Award, 2015
  • Glenn Award for Research in Biological Mechanisms of Aging, 2013
  • American Cancer Society Research Scholar, 2009-2013
  • Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar in Aging, 2009
  • Early Career Life Scientist Award, American Society of Cell Biology, 2009
  • ASCINA Award (Austrian Scientists and Scholars in North America), 2009
  • Pew Scholar Award, 2005
  • APART Fellow, 2000-2003
  • EMBO Long Term Fellowship, 1998-2003
  • Austrian Science Award in Genetics, 1997
  • Erwin Schroedinger Fellowship, 1997