Michael A. Marletta was born in Rochester New York on February 12, 1951. He graduated from the Aquinas Institute in 1969. After an A.B. degree in biology and chemistry from SUNY Fredonia in 1973, he received a PhD in 1978 from UCSF with George L. Kenyon followed by a 2-year postdoctoral appointment at MIT with Christopher Walsh.
In 1980 Marletta joined the faculty at M.I.T. as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Biological Sciences and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1986. In 1987 he moved to the University of Michigan as Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry in the College of Pharmacy and in 1989 Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry in the Medical School. In 1991 he was promoted to Professor and was appointed the John G. Searle Professor of Medicinal Chemistry. In 1997 he became an Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Marletta moved to the University of California, Berkeley in 2001 where he assumed the positions of Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry and Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology. He also held appointments as Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at UCSF and Faculty Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. He was appointed the Aldo DeBenedictis Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in 2002. He served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry at Berkeley from 2005-2010. In July 2011 he joined the faculty of The Scripps Research Institute and was named President-Elect. He assumed the presidency in January 2012.
Awards he has received include the George H. Hitchings Award for Innovative Methods in Drug Discovery and Design (1991) sponsored by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund; Faculty Recognition Award from Michigan (1992); Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award from SUNY Fredonia (1993); MacArthur Fellowship awarded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (1995); elected Senior Fellow in the Michigan Society of Fellows and elected to the SUNY Honor Role (1996); elected to the Institute of Medicine (1999); Distinguished Faculty Lectureship Award in Biomedical Research by the University of Michigan Medical School (2000); and Michigan Scientist of the Year (2000) by the Impression 5 Science Museum. In 2000 he was a Lecture Platform Speaker at the Chautauqua Institution and selected for Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award at the University of Michigan. In 2001 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2006. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2009. He received the Harrison Howe Award (2004) of the American Chemical Society, and in 2007 the Repligen Award, Biological Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society and the Kaiser Award from the Protein Society and the Esselen Award for Chemistry in the Public Interest, Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society, the Murray Goodman Memorial Prize (2009).
He is a member of the American Chemical Society and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He currently serves on the Board of Editors of ACS Chemical Biology and on the editorial board of PNAS and eLife as well as a number of other journals. He is a consultant for a number of pharmaceutical companies and serves on the scientific advisory boards of several others including N30 Pharmaceuticals, Inc. He is a co-founder of Omniox, Inc. He is a member of the Fredonia College Foundation Board of Directors and chair of Science Advisory Council at Fredonia. He is also on the advisory board of a number of university departments and centers.
Marletta's primary research interests lie at the interface of chemistry and biology with emphasis on the study of protein function and enzyme reaction mechanisms. Marletta has made fundamental discoveries concerning the biological action of nitric oxide. His studies have provided the basis for understanding at the molecular level of this unique cell signaling pathway and the function of nitric oxide in the immune system. He has uncovered several novel structure/function relationships in nitric oxide synthase and guanylate cyclase. His continued studies on NO signaling have recent led to a molecular understanding of general gas sensing mechanisms in biology. A new research direction involves novel oxidative enzymology of cellulose degradation with application to biofuel production.