Geisinger Names Dr. Christa Lese Martin Chief Scientific Officer

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Geisinger has named Christa Lese Martin, Ph.D., its chief scientific officer.

Dr. Martin, the founding director of Geisinger’s Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute (ADMI), will lead Geisinger’s systemwide clinical research initiatives, including more than 500 research faculty and staff members specializing in precision health, genomics, data science, population health, implementation science, health services, bioethics, and clinical trials.

“Our vision at Geisinger is to learn from every patient to maximize better health for all,” Dr. Martin said. “Geisinger has a long history—more than 100 years—of excellence in research, and I look forward to leading us into the next phase as we integrate our research discoveries into routine clinical care.”

Dr. Martin brings extensive experience in clinical and research genetics to the role. Before joining Geisinger in 2013, she was an associate professor in the Department of Human Genetics at Emory University and operations director of Emory Genetics Clinical Laboratory. Throughout her career, her research has taken a “genetics-first” approach to neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism, intellectual disability, and schizophrenia, with a goal of developing precision health-driven treatments.

Under her leadership, Geisinger’s Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute has grown to serve more than 9,000 patients and their families, leveraging leading-edge clinical research to improve outcomes for patients with developmental conditions. She is also part of the leadership team for the MyCode Community Health Initiative, Geisinger’s groundbreaking precision health program. In 2018, she was named associate chief scientific officer (CSO) at Geisinger and has served as interim CSO since December.

Dr. Martin has played a leading role in developing Geisinger as a learning health system, bridging research discoveries and clinical medicine and bringing precision health into everyday care. Today, Geisinger is home to more than 1,000 ongoing research studies, including clinical trials, and Geisinger faculty and staff published more than 750 papers and articles in 2020. The Research Institute receives more than $41 million in external funding annually.

Dr. Martin received her Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State University and completed her Ph.D. in Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh. She completed postdoctoral training at the University of Chicago’s Department of Human Genetics, where she remained on faculty as an assistant professor and director of the Clinical Cytogenetics Laboratory before joining Emory University in 2004.

Dr. Martin is a principal investigator of several National Institutes of Health-funded awards, including the Clinical Genome Resource (ClinGen) and Genes to Mental Health (G2MH) consortia. She serves on multiple national committees, including the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) Secondary Findings Working Group, which she co-chairs. She is board certified by the American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ABMGG) as a clinical genetics laboratory director. In 2019, she was invited to join the prestigious Carol Emmott Fellowship program for women leaders in healthcare.