interview with Marcy Maguire, MD. Marcy is a fellow at NIH doing research on reproductive health.
NV: What are the potential applications of your research or treatments that could result?
Marcy: The applications for the first project are pretty theoretical at this point, and its purpose is to add to our basic understanding of reproduction. For the second project, its applications are also unknown, but the results are probably more understandable and interesting to the non-scientist. A woman’s fertility declines with increasing age, and by 40 it can be difficult to conceive spontaneously. Most women undergo menopause around age 51. Given the increasing tendency to delay childbearing in our modern society and the ongoing controversies surrounding hormone replacement therapy after menopause, the cellular processes associated with age-related decline in fertility and the onset of menopause are both interesting and socially relevant.
NV: You've explained how your work contributes to infertility treatment and care. Can you talk a little about your impact on your community? In other words, how does your NIH fellowship allow you to make a contribution to your local economy and the health of others?
Marcy: I’m the mother of a 3 year old daughter, who goes to daycare. I rent a house in Bethesda, and contribute to my local economy in pretty normal ways-grocery shopping, restaurants, etc…I think my contribution to the health of others is probably a more unique and interesting story.
Although my last year at NIH has been research-focused, I still see patients. What is great about my clinical experience is that I see patients who are afflicted with very rare disorders. By coming to the NIH, these patients are given the opportunity to be cared for by physicians with expertise in the particular disease that afflicts them. The patients in turn contribute to science by allowing researchers here to study their health in the context of their disorder.
Also, because we are government funded, we are heavily connected to the military system, especially Walter Reed and the National Naval Medical Center. We are able to treat men and women in the military who are experiencing infertility or who require specialist reproductive endocrine care. The great indirect benefit to all of this is that our interactions with patients often spur individual research projects. Every patient is unique and there is something to be learned from every person we meet.
NV: Do you have any memorable experiences from your time working with patients?
Marcy: I’m lucky in that I can watch the gradual results of a woman’s infertility treatment take shape-in the form of a child! There is one couple that I treated early on in my fellowship who now has a child. I’ve run into them a few times outside of the hospital. It makes me so happy when I see them as a family, and to know that I contributed to that is a pretty gratifying feeling.
NV: What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a researcher or an advocate for research?
Marcy: My advice would really be to just dive in, find a hospital or lab in your area, and expose yourself to multiple fields to see what triggers your interest. There are so many fields of medicine to specialize in, and the earlier you can become exposed the better.
My other advice would be to get started as early as possible. There is an unbelievable amount of information out there, so the more time you give yourself to build your knowledge base, the better.
Special thanks to Marcy for sharing her research with us. We look forward to seeing the results of her projects.
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