Dr. Marten J. Edwards

Assistant Professor of Biology

B.A. Reed College, 1986
Peace Corps Volunteer, Kingdom of Tonga, 1986-1990.
Ph.D. University of Arizona, Department of Entomology 1996
NIH Postdoctoral Fellow:  Case Western Reserve University, Department of Genetics, 1996-1999

Office:         226 Shankweiler Hall
Telephone:  (484) 664-3252
Fax:            (484) 664-3002
Email:         Edwards@muhlenberg.edu

Mailing address:

Biology Department
Muhlenberg College
Shankweiler Hall 226
2400 Chew Street
Allentown, PA 18104

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Biology 152  Principals of Biology III:  Molecules and Cells
The third course in the introductory biology sequence for majors.  Sturdy of the relation of structure and function at the molecular and cellular level, molecular and Mendelian genetics, and microbiology.  Three class hours and three laboratory hours per week.  Prerequisite:  Bio 151 Principals of Biology II and CHM 104 General Chemistry II.  Meets general academic requirement S.

Biology 205  Cell Biology I
Exploration of life at the cellular level.  Integrates the molecular and biochemical underpinnings of modern cell biology  with larger scale implications of cell signaling pathways, cell membranes,  protein targeting mechanisms,  regulation of the cell cycle,  cell motility, cancer and programmed cell death.   Primary literature in current cell biology is introduced through recitation sections and rigorous literature review exercises.  Laboratory provides experience in methods of cell fractionation, biochemical analysis of cellular organelles, cell culture and cytological staining.  Self-designed independent  laboratory investigations address questions in cellular biology using  fluorescent microscopy and a wide array of molecular probes for cellular organelles and cytoskeletal components.  Three lecture hours, one hour of recitation and three laboratory hours per week.  Prerequisite:  Bio 152 Principles of Biology III: Molecules & Cells   Biology 205 Syllabus

Biology  280 Special Topics: Entomology
A comprehensive study of the insects. Insect physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology are integrated with an exploration of insect diversity,
ecology, evolution, and the impact of insects on humans. Labs develop insect identification skills and provide experience in a variety of biochemical and
molecular techniques as they are applied to current research in insect science.
Prerequisite: BIO 152 Principles of Biology III: Molecules & Cells

Biology 305   Cell Biology II:  Cell Biology of Human Disease
Selected topics on cell biology as it relates to human disease will be explored in depth using contemporary primary cell biology literature as the principal resource.  An emphasis will be placed on an analysis of experimental design, methodology and interpretation of data.  Topics of investigation will include the extracellular matrix and its role in therapeutic stem cell research, cell signaling pathways as they relate to cancer, programmed cell death in autoimmune disease and Alzheimer's disease, the role of cytoskeletal proteins in heart disease and a cellular investigation of malaria.  As a writing intensive course, students will critically analyze current controversies in the cell biology literature.  Prerequisite:  Biology 205 or Consent of Instructor.

Research Interests

Molecular Biology of Disease Transmission Mosquitoes

Mosquito-borne diseases including malaria, dengue and yellow fever are among the most serious threats to worldwide human health. Research in the Edwards lab is focused on the molecular interactions between mosquitoes and the pathogens that they transmit. The cell and molecular biology of mosquitoes has a direct impact on how well these insects can spread diseases that kill approximately two million people each year.  One approach to investigating the interface between mosquitoes and pathogens is to experimentally express foreign genes in the mosquito after she takes a blood meal from an infected host.  The protein-products of these genes can target specific molecules on the surface of the pathogen. Using transgenic methods, these genes can be transferred into the mosquito genome. Students in the Edwards lab are currently investigating molecular aspects of mosquito reproduction and LaCrosse encephalitis virus transmission.  LaCrosse virus is unusual in that it can be propagated within mosquito populations through the eggs (transovarial transmission). Three days after a blood meal, the female mosquito lays about 150 eggs. Students are linking the ovary-specific promoters to a human gene (MxA) which shows extremely strong antiviral activity against LaCrosse virus. This construct will be inserted into the mosquito genome using the PiggyBac transposable element. When these transgenic mosquitoes take a blood meal, they are expected to interfere with the replication of the virus in their ovaries, which would block transovarial transmission.

Muhlenberg students have the opportunity to work on this research through the Muhlenberg Summer Research Program, with suport from a grant to the Edwards lab from the National Institutes of Health.

Images of Mosquito Research


Molecular Biology of Disease Transmission by Ticks

With a grant from the U.S. National Academies of Science,  I performed research at the Institute of Parasitology of the Czech National Academies of Science (http://www.paru.cas.cz in Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic, during the summer of 2001.   Undergraduate student, Supriya Pai (OWU '03) also accompanied me to the Czech Republic for an independent research project.  Our research  employed the recently developed method of PCR subtractive hybridization to isolate genes from ticks that were expressed following infection with Lyme disease-causing spirochetes.  Working in collaboration with Dr. Libor Grubhoffer we will continue this research through a competitive grant from the Czech National Academy of Sciences.

Muhlenberg Students will have the opportunity to travel to the Czech Republic to participate in this research.

Images from the Czech Republic


Ward TW , Jenkins MS, Afanasiev B, Edwards MJ, Duda BA, Suchman E, Jacobs-Lorena M, Beaty BJ, and Carlson JO (2001).  Aedes aegypti Transducing Densovirus Pathogenesis and Expression in Aedes aegypti  and Anopheles gambiae larvae.  Insect Molecular Biology. 10(5):397-405

Moreira LA, Edwards MJ, Adhami F, Jasinskiene N, James AA and Jacobs-Lorena, M (2000) Robust gut-specific gene expression in transgenic Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA). 97(20): 10895-10898.

Edwards MJ and Jacobs-Lorena M (2000) Permeability and disruption of the peritrophic matrix and caecal membrane from Aedes aegypti and Anopheles gambiae mosquito larvae. J. Insect Physiol. 46:1313-1320.

Shen Z, Edwards MJ* and Jacobs-Lorena M (2000) A gut-specific serine protease from the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae is downregulated after blood ingestion. Insect Molec. Biol. 9(3): 223-230      * co-first author

Edwards MJ, Moskalyk LA, Donelly-Doman M, Vlaskova M, Noriega FG, Walker VK and Jacobs-Lorena M (2000) Characterization of a carboxypeptidase A gene from the mosquito, Aedes aegypti.  Insect Molec. Biol. 9(1): 33-38

Ghosh A, Edwards MJ and Jacobs-Lorena M (2000) The journey of the malaria parasite in the mosquito: hopes for the new century. Parasitology Today. 16(5): 196-201.

Edwards MJ, Severson DW and Hagedorn HH (1998) Vitelline envelope genes of the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol.   28: 915-925.

Greenstone MH and Edwards MJ (1998).  A DNA hybridization probe for endoparasitism by Microplitis cropeipes.  Ann. Ent. Soc. USA.  91(4):415-421.

Edwards MJ, Lemos FJA, Donnelly-Doman M and Jacobs-Lorena M (1997) Rapid induction by a blood meal of a carboxypeptidase gene in the gut of the mosquito Anopheles gambiae.    Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol.   27: 1063-1072.

Edwards MJ (1996).  The vitelline membranes of Aedes aegypti  and Drosophila melanogaster:  a comparative review. J. Inv. Reproduction. 30: 224-64.

Lin Y, Hamblin MT, Edwards MJ, Barillas-Mury CB, Kanost MR, Knipple DC, Wolfner MF and Hagedorn HH (1993)  Structure, expression and hormonal control of genes from the mosquito, Aedes aegypti, which encode proteins similar to the vitelline membrane proteins of Drosophila melanogaster. Developmental Biology. 155: 558-568.


Extramural Research Grants

2001-2004  National Institute of Health  $142,390

         Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA)
         Ovary-specific gene expression in transgenic mosquitoes

2001-2004   National Science Foundation  $129,750

         Major Research Instrumentation Grant (MRI)
         Acquisition of a Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope for Ohio Wesleyan University

2001   National Academies of Science  $6,800

           Collaboration in Basic Science and Engineering Award (COBASE)
            Molecular Biology of Disease Transmission by Ticks and Sandflies

Curriculum Vitae