Jackie Marcus, MD, was a biology major in her third year of college when her mother was diagnosed with MS at age 51. “I didn’t know much about MS at the time, but it was a significant event in my life,” she said. It was part of what propelled her toward medical school.
Currently finishing her residency in neurology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Dr. Marcus said she had at first “hoped not to go into something that hit so close to home. But I liked neurology, and I felt a closer connection to people with MS.” While she has done research and assisted with studies, her primary aim is clinical. “I want to spend my time with patients,” she said.
She’s given a lot of thought to what benefits people with MS best, and has come to believe in the comprehensive care center model. “It’s great to have as much ‘one-stop shopping’ as possible,” she said, “with conventional and alternative approaches to a variety of MS symptoms all addressed.”
One thing she’s learned, she said, is that if depression is part of the picture, it’s important to treat it right away. “In MS, depression can be a triple threat: first, finding out that you have a chronic lifelong disease isn’t pleasant. Then, research shows that depression may be an aspect of the disease itself. And third, certain MS medications can exacerbate depression.”
The Society has provided Dr. Marcus with a one-year fellowship at UCSF, where she will be mentored by Emmanuelle Waubant, MD, PhD. During her fellowship, she will train with MS experts, a neuro-urologist, and a research specialist to gain skills as a master MS clinician. She will also continue to research potential neuro-protective medications and vitamin D supplementation to determine their benefits for people with MS. “I want to thank the Society as well as people with MS who raised money to support young physician leaders,” she said. They are giving me the opportunity to give back.”