Alain Marty was born in 1949 in Montbéliard (eastern France). After studies at the Ecole Polytechnique he did his thesis work in Paris on biophysical properties of acetylcholine-gated channels in the marine mollusc Aplysia (thesis adviser, Philippe Ascher). He worked as a postdoc in Göttingen in the laboratory of Erwin Neher in 1980-1982, and participated then to the development of the patch-clamp technique. He led an independent group at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris from 1982 to 1994, working on calcium homeostasis in acinar cells of exocrine glands (1982-1990) and then on patch-clamp studies in brain slices (1991-1994). He has kept this theme of research since then, first as head of a team at the Max Planck Institut für biophysikalische Chemie in Göttingen (1994 to 2000), and more recently as head of a CNRS Unit at the Université Paris 5 (2001-present).
Alain Marty’s contributions include the demonstration of a coupling between ion channel permeation and gating in acetylcholine-sensitive channels; a participation in the development of the patch-clamp method (in particular, measurement of cell capacitance; perforated patch recording); the discovery of BK channels in chromaffin cells, and of Ca-dependent Cl channels in acinar exocrine cells; the discovery of DSI and rebound potentiation (two novel forms of synaptic plasticity at central synapses); the demonstration of multivesicular release at central gabaergic synapses; the description of spontaneous calcium transients in axons and synaptic terminals of central gabaergic neurons.