Martha Betson
  • $s1
  • $s1 department
  • $s1
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road


Employment history


Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Natural History Museum


Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School



MSc Control of Infectious Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Dissertation: Investigation of the current susceptibility/resistance status of malaria vectors to insecticides used for malaria vector control in The Gambia


MA Medical Ethics and Law, King's College London

Dissertation: Legal and ethical issues in medical research


PhD Biochemisty, MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology and University College London

Thesis: Regulation of cell-cell adhesion in keratinocytes: the reciprocal relationship between cadherins and Rho family GTPases. 


BA Hons Natural Sciences, University of Cambridge

Professional Roles

Awards and Scholarships

2004-2005      Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Program Postdoctoral Training Award

1997-2001      MRC PhD Studentship

1996                 Beard Third Year Scholarship, Newnham College, University of Cambridge

1995                 Beard Second Year Scholarship, Newnham College, University of Cambridge


2008                 Eldryd Parry prize for best overall performance on MSc in Control of Infectious                           Diseases


Fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene



Summer 2008     MRC Farafenni, The Gambia

Collection of Anopheles larvae from five different locations across The Gambia (Essau, Farafenni, Mansa Konko, Kuntaur and Basse) to test for resistance to DDT and pyrethroid insecticides.

Gambia fieldwork

Looking for Anopheles larvae in The Gambia.


Research Interests

My background is in molecular cell biology and genetics. Over the past few years I have become interested in international health, in particular the control of tropical infectious diseases. My aim is to use a combined biological and epidemiological approach to gain insights into the transmission dynamics of tropical infectious diseases and how control of such diseases can be improved.


Control of schistosomiasis and molecular epidemiology of Schistosoma mansoni in Ugandan infants and pre-school children

Schistosomiasis (or Bilhazia) is a neglected tropical disease caused by trematode parasitic worms of the genus Schistosoma. Approximately 200 million people are infected worldwide, the vast majority in sub-Saharan Africa. Up to now control of schistosomiaisis has been largely based on mass drug administration of the anthelminthic praziquantel to school-aged childen. However, recent work indicates that infants and preschool children also often show a high prevalence of schistosomiasis infection. We are investigating intestinal schistosomiasis in preschool children and their mothers in villages along the shores of Lakes Victoria and Albert in Uganda with the ultimate goal of improving control of schistosomiasis in these populations.


Dr Russell Stothard


Jose de Sousa-Figueiredo

Claire Standley



  • Jiang, W., Betson, M., Mulloy, R., Foster, R., Ligeti, E. and Settleman, J. ( 2008 ) p190A RhoGAP is a glycogen synthase kinase-3-beta substrate required for polarized cell migration. J. Biol. Chem. 283 : 20978-88 . 10.1074/jbc.M802588200
  • Betson, M. and Settleman, J. ( 2007 ) A Rho-binding Protein Kinase C-like activity is required for the function of the PKN kinase in Drosophila development. Genetics 176 : 2201-12 . 10.1534/genetics.107.072967
  • Verdier, V., Johndrow, J.E., Betson, M., Chen, G.C., Hughes, D.A., Parkhurst, S.M. and
    Settleman, J. ( 2006 ) Drosophila Rho-kinase (Drok) is required for tissue morphogenesis in diverse compartments of the egg chamber during oogenesis. Dev. Biol. 297 : 417-32 . 10.1016/j.ydbio.2006.05.016
  • Zhang, J., Betson, M., Erasmus, J., Zeikos, K., Bailly, M., Cramer, L.P. and Braga, V.M. ( 2005 ) Actin at cell-cell junctions is composed of two dynamic and functional populations. J. Cell Sci. 118 : 5549-62 . 10.1242/jcs.02639
  • Braga, V. M. and Betson, M. ( 2004 ) Cell-cell adhesion., In: Rho GTPases . Landes Biosciences : Georgetown, Texas , 115-139 .
  • Song, Y.H., Mirey, G., Betson, M., Haber, D.A. and Settleman, J. ( 2004 ) The Drosophila ATM ortholog, dATM, mediates the response to ionizing radiation and to spontaneous DNA damage during development. Curr. Biol. 14 : 1354-9 . 10.1016/j.cub.2004.06.064
  • Lozano, E., Betson, M. and Braga, V.M.M. ( 2003 ) Tumor progression: Small GTPases and loss of cell-cell adhesion. Bioessays 25 : 452-63 . 10.1002/bies.10262
  • Marie, H., Pratt, S.J., Betson, M., Epple, H., Kittler, J.T., Meek, L., Moss, S.J., Troyanovsky, S., Attwell, D., Longmore, G.D. and Braga, V.M. ( 2003 ) The LIM protein Ajuba is recruited to cadherin-dependent cell junctions through an association with alpha-catenin. J. Biol. Chem. 278 : 1220-8 . 10.1074/jbc.M205391200
  • Betson, M., Lozano, E., Zhang, J. and Braga, V.M. ( 2002 ) Rac activation upon cell-cell contact formation is dependent on signaling from the epidermal growth factor receptor. J. Biol. Chem. 277 : 36962-9 . 10.1074/jbc.M207358200
  • Lampugnani, M. G., Zanetti, A., Breviario, F., Balconi, G., Orsenigo, F., Corada, M.,
    Spagnuolo, R., Betson, M., Braga, V. and Dejana, E ( 2002 ) VE-cadherin regulates endothelial actin activating Rac and increasing membrane association of Tiam. Mol. Biol. Cell 13 : 1175-89 . 10.1091/mbc.01-07-0368
  • Braga, V. M. M., Betson, M., Li, X. and Lamarche-Vane, N. ( 2000 ) Activation of the small GTPase Rac is sufficient to disrupt cadherin-dependent cell-cell adhesion in normal human keratinocytes. Mol. Biol. Cell 11 : 3703-21 . Mol. Biol. Cell