Martha G. Welch, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry
Undergraduate: Washington Square College, New York University, B.A., 1962-1967
Medical School: Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, M.D., 1978 - 1971
Internship: Greenwich Hospital Association, Rotating Internship, 1971 - 1972
Residency: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, General Psychiatry, 1972 - 1974
Fellowship: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Child Psychiatry, 1974 - 1977
Board Certifications: 1977, Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
Dr. Welch is exploring the biological mechanisms of nurture and the ways they can be exploited to provide new treatments for developmental and behavioral disorders. The effort involves two closely coordinated initiatives. In basic research the BrainGut Initiative is exploring the biological processes and mechanisms that account for the profound therapeutic actions of mother-infant nurture. In clinical research the Biologically-based Therapy Initiative will translate basic findings into testable nurture-based treatments. Work with the Office of Clinical Trials has begun. Together with Dr. David Ruggiero, Dr. Welch demonstrated for the first time that the gut peptide secretin is synthesized in the forebrain by the hypothalamus. They also demonstrated that chronic GI inflammation leads to brain activation patterns in areas known to be abnormal in autism. In collaboration with Drs. Michael D.Gershon and Hadassah Tamir, they demonstrated the presence of oxytocin receptors in the gut. Recently, Drs. Gershon and Welch established the Columbia University Brain Gut Initiative to further investigate mechanisms of nurture as they condition the brain-gut axis. This research program derives from investigation of a novel therapeutic approach to the treatment of dysregulation of brain and gut demonstrating efficacy of combined secretin and oxytocin in the treatment of gastrointestinal inflammation and concomitant brain effects in acquired and congenital/genetic rodent models of colitis.