When she’s not treating patients in the Multiple Sclerosis and Neuroimmunology Center, she’s working to better understand multiple sclerosis (MS) and researching treatment options for the autoimmune disorder.
All of your experiences as a young person will inform the future leader you’ll become.
We sat down with Dr. Sicotte to learn more about her research and how she hopes to impact the future of science.
What are you doing to make waves in the science world?
Dr. Nancy Sicotte: I am researching multiple sclerosis and the mechanisms driving the disease’s progression.
I use advanced imaging techniques to better understand the symptoms, cognitive changes, and depression related to MS.
I also am testing new imaging biomarkers that may help improve the accuracy of diagnosing and predicting the disease.
This is important because instituting effective, individualized treatments early in the course of MS will lead to the best outcomes for the nearly 1 million people nationwide living with this debilitating neurological condition.
Read: MS and Pregnancy
How are you impacting the future of science?
Dr. Sicotte: Building the future workforce in neurology in general, and in neuroimmunology in particular, is my other passion.
My aim is to spark interest among the medical students and residents who rotate through our clinic. While we now have many more effective MS therapies, there is still a need for expertise in using them appropriately.
I’m also impacting science by providing young women trainees with living proof that women can hold leadership positions in academic institutions.
What leadership advice would you give to your younger self?
Dr. Sicotte: I would have told her to relax and realize there are many different leadership styles and that over time you will develop a style that suits you.
When you’re young, you often feel as if you’re standing still and not accomplishing enough; in reality, though, you’re learning important lessons.
I also would have told myself to expect both difficulties and accomplishments.
It is these experiences—good and bad—that fuel your future growth. In fact, all of your experiences as a young person will inform the future leader you’ll become.
In the Newsroom: Study of Multiple Sclerosis Patients Shows 18% Misdiagnosed
Who is your favorite science heroine from history and why?
Dr. Sicotte: My science heroines aren’t from history. They’re my contemporaries—my colleagues and role models.
Dr. Sarah Kilpatrick, professor and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, certainly comes to mind. She’s not only an exceptional clinician who’s conducted groundbreaking research, but also a trailblazing role model for many, including me.
When I first came to Cedars-Sinai, she reached out to me and was very supportive. She has raised awareness institution-wide about the importance of diversity and equality. Role models can have a powerful impact.
My three daughters grew up knowing women can be doctors and scientists. The oldest is now in medical school, surrounded by female students who may well be the science heroines of the future.
The neon pink brain artwork in Dr. Sicotte’s office was created by patient and artist Michelle Constantine.