What institutions did she attend?

  • Port Maria Primary School, Jamaica
  • Excelsior High School, Jamaica
  • The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Jamaica- BSc in Chemistry and Zoology, MSc in Medical Genetics
  • University of Western Ontario, Canada- PhD in Microscopic Anatomy
  • McGill University, Montreal, Canada- Postdoctoral Studies in Cell Biology and Cell Genetics

Other Achievements

  • The University of the West Indies’ 2010 Mona Homecoming Honouree
  • National Science Foundation, Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), 2007
  • Chairperson of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), 2002- 2005
  • National Science Foundation Career Advancement Award, 1993- 1994
  • Medical Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill University in Montreal, 1972-1975


In her free time, she enjoys being with her granddaughter, and strives to show her how science is fun and a part of our everyday lives.

Patricia Martin-DeLeon (Date of Birth: 13th Jul 1944)

Caribbean Women in STI

Professor Patricia Martin-DeLeon is a reproductive geneticist who is widely recognised for her contributions to andrology – the speciality dealing with male reproductive health. She has researched and published extensively on the genes involved in sperm development and function, sperm membrane, and epididymal proteins. This work has produced three patents issued or pending and over 100 publications and abstracts. She and her team are continuing to investigate how sperm lose their motility, as this is a key factor in male infertility. Their focus is on the enzymes involved in maintaining normal calcium levels in sperm since abnormal levels lead to the loss of motility. This research is supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Professor Martin-DeLeon, the Trustees Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Delaware, has been on the faculty for the past 34 years. She has also held positions at renowned universities, including visiting scientist at the Johns Hopkins University, USA, visiting faculty at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and Adjunct Professor at Penn State University College of Medicine. She has served as a member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee, and on the NIH and National Science Foundation Review Panels. She also sat on the editorial boards of several scientific journals, and on the Executive Council of the American Society of Andrology which, in 2006, recognised her contribution to the field.

In 2010, she had the honour of being presented by President Barack Obama with the US Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. This award is given to individuals or organisations in recognition of the contribution made to mentoring students in the fields of science and engineering. Professor Martin-DeLeon was nominated by her colleagues, as she has mentored more that 100 trainees including those at the undergraduate level, the majority of whom are female and about a third are members of minority groups.

Patricia A. Martin was born on 13th July 1944 in Port Maria, Jamaica. She remembers having a fascination with nature as a child – a fascination that her mother greatly encouraged. Being part of a family of nine children, she learned to be focused and resourceful. For example, in an effort to allow other siblings the chance to also attend secondary school, she lobbied her principal to waive her tuition fees. Her wish was subsequently granted on the basis of her top academic performance and, as a result, her parents were better able to afford to educate her siblings. Her curiosity about the natural world was further stoked by her high school teachers, Mrs Hines and Mr Miller. At university, it was her advisor, Dr Molly Thorburn, who piqued her interest in medical genetics, which set her on the road to an outstanding career in that field.

Her personal motto is “Age animo”, which is the motto of the high school she attended. It means “Do it with all your might”.


What is a geneticist?

A geneticist is a scientist who studies the behaviour of genes. Genes are fundamental to all living organisms and influence every characteristic including appearance, behaviour and diseases.

Geneticists study the genetic composition of living organisms, including the processes that generate genes, how they can be identified and located, how they are expressed, and how they could be manipulated to provide beneficial outcomes. Geneticists may be employed as researchers or lecturers. They may work in agricultural or medical research, genetic counselling, crime investigation and pharmaceutical development.

Areas of Specialisation

  • Cytogenetics
  • Molecular genetics
  • Population genetics
  • Pharmaco-genetics

What do I need to study?

At CSEC and CAPE: Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics

A bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, molecular biology or biochemistry is preferred. Research and lecturing positions require a master’s or doctoral degree.

What skills and traits do I need?

  • Love for laboratory work
  • Appreciation for accuracy and the sensitivity of information
  • Team work
  • Computer and math skills

Famous Geneticists

  • Francis Crick
  • James Watson
  • Rosalind Franklin
  • Barbara McClintock
  • Gregor Mendel
  • D. Bernard Amos