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Meet Our Florida Scientists Karina Martinez-Mayorga
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Karina Martínez Mayorga

Karina Martínez MayorgaTorreyPinesInstituteFL

Assistant Member
Conformational Analysis

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Dr. Martínez-Mayorga focuses on the development of structural models by computational and spectroscopic techniques to aid in the design of new compounds that may be used to treat disease. Some of the computational methods employed in our research group are: conformational analysis, molecular similarity searching, ligand-based virtual screening, quantum chemical calculations, and molecular dynamics simulations. The spectroscopic characterization is primarily based on nuclear magnetic resonance experiments. In close collaboration with national and international research groups, we are developing structural models with relevance to treating a variety of health-related conditions such as diabetes, pain, cancer, as well as the vision process. In addition, we are studying the importance of flavor chemicals on mood and exploring the use of metal complexes to combat serious but neglected tropical diseases.

Dr. Karina Martínez-Mayorga earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry in 1997 and a Ph.D. in 2005 with Professor Gabriel Cuevas, both from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. During her doctoral studies, she participated in research visits with Professor Jesus Jimenez-Barbero in Madrid, Spain and instructed in the School of Chemistry at UNAM and La Salle University. In February 2005, Dr. Martínez-Mayorga joined the group of Professor Michael F. Brown at the University of Arizona as a postdoctoral fellow, conducting experimental and computational research on membrane proteins and membrane lipids. Dr. Martinez-Mayorga joined the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies in August 2007 as Assistant Member.


  • 2005 – Doctor of Philosophy (Chemistry), Institute of Chemistry. National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico.
  • 1998 – Bachelor of Science, (Major Food Chemistry) Department of Chemistry, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico.

Academic Positions

  • August 2007 – Present, Assistant Member Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, Port St.Lucie, Florida.
  • February 2008 – Present, Affiliate Research Assistant Professor Department of Biological Sciences, FloridaAtlanticUniversity, Boca Raton, Florida
  • February 2005 – June 2007, Postdoctoral Fellow Department of Chemistry, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
  • February 2003 – September 2003, VisitingResearchScholarCenter of Biological Research – National Spanish Research Council (CIB-CSIC) Madrid, Spain.
  • February 2004 – January 2005, Research Assistant National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico.
  • June 2004 – February 2005, Research Assistant National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico.
  • June 2003 – June 2005, Adjunct Faculty National Autonomous University of Mexico and La Salle University, Mexico City, Mexico.

Professional Affiliations

  • Member, American Chemical Society
  • Member, Biophysical Society
  • Member, Mexican Chemical Society

Awards & Fellowships

  • 2011: Award granted by Robertet Flavors, Inc. to conduct research on flavor, mood and related areas. Mood is an emotional state in constant change. We are interested in the study and discovery of mood modulators, in particular mood enhancers. We are exploring natural sources: flavor chemicals and compounds used in traditional medicine, as well as putative mechanisms of action in relation to those of current therapeutic agents.
  • 2001– 2003 National Council on Science and Technology Fellowship, PhD studies
  • 2003 National Autonomous University of Mexico predoctoral fellowship
  • 1998 – 2000 National Council on Science and Technology Fellowship, M.Sc. studies


  • 2010 – Present: Member of the National Researchers System, level 1, National Council on Science and Technology (SNI-CONACyT), Mexico
  • 2010 – Present: Member of the Advisory Committee of the National Council on Science and Technology (SNI-CONACyT), Mexico
  • 2006 – 2008: Member of the National Researchers System, level candidate, National Council on Science and Technology (SNI-CONACyT), Mexico
  • 2005: Antonio Caso Medal postulate for PhD studies, National Autonomous University of Mexico
  • 2004: Outstanding Teacher, La Salle University


  • Grant Reviewer: Austrian Science Fund (FWF)
  • Reviewer for professional publications: Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Journal of the Mexican Chemical Society, ChemMedChem, Journal of Peptide Science, Journal of Chemical Information and Modelling, Expert Opinion in Drug Discovery, Journal of Molecular Modelling, Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling, European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

Selected Publications (10 of 25)

  1. Struts, A.V.; Salgado, G. F.; Martinez-Mayorga, K.; Brown, M. F. “Retinal Dynamics Underlie Inverse-Agonist to Agonist Switch in Rhodopsin Activation” Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 2011, 18, 392-394.
  2. Yongye, A. B.; Bender, A.; Martínez-Mayorga, K. “Dynamic clustering threshold reduces conformer ensemble size while maintaining a biologically relevant ensemble” J. Comput.-Aided Mol. Des. 2010 24, 675-686
  3. Yongye, A. B.; Giulianotti, M. A.; Nefzi, A.; Houghten, R. A.; Martínez-Mayorga, K. “Conformational landscape of platinum(II)-tetraamine complexes: DFT and NBO studies” J. Comput.-Aided Mol. Des. 2010, 24, 225-235.
  4. Yongye, B. A.; Appel, J. R.; Giulianotti, M. A.; Colette, T. D.; Medina-Franco, J. L.; Nefzi, A.; Houghten, R. A.; Martínez-Mayorga, K. “Identification, Structure Activity Relationships and Molecular Modeling of Potent Triamine and Piperazine Opioid Ligands” Bioorg. Med. Chem, 2009, 17, 5583-5597.
  5. Yongye, B. A.; Li, Y.; Giulianotti, M. A.; Yu. Y.; Houghten, R. A.; Martínez-Mayorga, K. “Modeling of Peptides Containing D-Amino Acids: Implications on Cyclization” J. Comput.-Aided Mol. Des. 2009, 23, 677-689.
  6. Medina-Franco, J. L; Martínez-Mayorga, K.; Bender, A.; Marin, R. M.; Giulianotti, M. A; Pinilla, C.; Houghten, R. A. “Characterization of Activity Landscapes Using 2D and 3D Similarity Methods: Consensus Activity Cliffs” J. Chem. Info. Model. 2009, 49, 477-491.
  7. Mahalingam, M.; Martínez-Mayorga, K.; Brown, M. F.; Vogel, R. “Two protonation switches control rhodopsin activation in membranes” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 2008, 105, 17795-17800.
  8. Martínez-Mayorga, K.; Pitman, M. C.; Groessfield, A.; Feller, S. E.; Brown, M. F. “Retinal Counterion Switch Mechanism in Vision Evaluated by Molecular Simulations” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2006, 128, 16502-16503.
  9. Cuevas, G.; Martínez-Mayorga, K.; Fernandez-Alonso, M. del. C.; Jiménez-Barbero, J.; Perrin, C. L.; Juaristi, E.; López-Mora, N. “The Origin of One-Bond C-H Coupling Constants in OCH Fragments: Not Primarily nO ® s*CH Delocalization” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 2005, 44, 2360-2364.
  10. Martínez-Mayorga, K.; Medina-Franco, J. L.; Mari, S.; Cañada, F. J.; Rodríguez-García, E.; Vogel, P.; Li, H.; Bleriot, Y.; Sinaÿ, P.; and Jiménez-Barbero, J. “The conformational behavior of novel glycosidase inhibitors with substituted azepan structures. A NMR and modeling study” Euro. J. Org. Chem. 2004, 4119-4129.