Doctor of Science
In studying the chemical mechanisms that control muscle contraction, Dr. Andrew R. Marks ’76 has already brought about breakthroughs in the understanding and treatment of heart disease and muscular dystrophy. As a professor, he helps pave the way for future breakthroughs by the next generation of doctors and scientists.
Marks grew up in Manhattan, the son of Dr. Paul Marks, longtime dean of Columbia University Medical Center and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Andrew became the first student ever to graduate from Amherst with honors in two subjects—English and biology. He earned his medical degree from Harvard and went on to work at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and then to teach at Mount Sinai. In 1997, he joined the faculty of Columbia as Director of the Center for Molecular Cardiology and the Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology. Four years later, he founded what is now SPURS, Columbia’s Summer Program for Underrepresented Students, to “play a pivotal role in advancing education for underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students” and “create diversity of representation among the future ranks of doctors and investigative scientists.” In 2002, in response to a proposed cultural and academic boycott of Israel by European and American professors, Marks founded the International Academic Friends of Israel to support that nation’s academic freedom and inclusion. “The open exchange of ideas is fundamental to biomedical research and the advancement of learning and fighting human diseases,” he has said. He was named chair of Columbia’s Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics in 2003.
Marks has also served as editor-in-chief of The Journal of Clinical Investigation. His honors include the Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, membership in the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, fellowship in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Basic Research Prize from the American Heart Association.
Marks’ research has led to the development of the drug-eluting coronary stent, a metal device used in most angioplasties to keep arteries free of blockage. Marks is also responsible for identifying a protein called calstabin, which is being used in a therapy, currently in clinical development, for treating arrhythmias, heart failure and muscular dystrophy.
Hear Marks’ talk, “A Search for Novel Cures for Heart Disease, Muscle Fatigue and Muscular Dystrophy,” on our audio page, Conversations with Honored Guests.